Modesty takes a holiday: Businesses blow your horns

Phil Castle

’Tis the season. For, among other things, holiday newsletters. You know, those annual missives you receive, typically from distant relations.

You only met once, and that was at a family reunion 15 years ago in Iowa. But every year since, they’ve confided in intimate detail what’s occurred in their lives. And it’s always amazing. Too good to be true, in fact.

Your second cousin Fred won the Ironman World Championship. And Aunt Ethel, bless her heart, received Nobel prizes for both chemistry and physics.

Before I poke too much fun at holiday newsletters, let me confess two things. First, I enjoy newsletters. If only for the reassurance at least once a year family and friends are doing well. Incredibly well, judging by what they write. Second, I send out newsletters myself.

My bragfest this year includes the announcements my oldest son, Zach, received his MBA from Dartmouth and went to work for Goldman Sachs. My youngest son Alex — the CPA — was promoted at the big accounting firm where he works. Oh, that’s right. I almost forgot. An entry based on my novel “Small Town News” won the Colorado Gold Rush Literary Award in the mystery and thriller category.

No kidding. As humor columnist and author Dave Barry reiterates so eloquently: I’m not making this up.

Needless to say, I’ve got a lot of blessings to count. And I do. With gratitude.

Near the end of what might charitably be called an interesting year for holiday newsletters, I’m reminded of the opening line by Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

For me, the best of 2020 exceeded the worst. Best of all, family and friends remain safe, even those who tested positive for COVID-19. I’m relieved.

But I’m also reminded that for many people, that’s not the case. For some, 2020 has been a nightmare from which they can’t seem to awake. And for those who’ve lost loved ones, the pandemic has been heart-rending. My condolences and prayers go out to you.

Business owners and managers have faced unprecedented challenges, among them limits on how many customers can patronize their establishments at a given time. Others have somehow managed entire staffs working from home.

And some enterprises couldn’t survive and closed their doors. Their absences diminish our economies as well as our communities and lives.

The situation makes me wonder what kinds of holiday newsletters businesses might send out this year.

Many businesses do — not only as a way to market during the holidays, but also thank customers for their loyalty. But what if business newsletters were more like family newsletters?

For starters, any business that’s faced and survived the onslaughts of the pandemic should celebrate the courage and perseverance required of those efforts. As far as I’m concerned, the louder businesses blow their own horns, the better.

To heck with accolades or milestones, exaggerated or not. I want to read about real accomplishments. About businesses that have maintained staffing. About businesses that have developed new ways to provide products and services. Most of all, I want the reassurance that businesses remain open and ready to serve their customers.

I can’t write holiday newsletters for businesses, of course. But I can share their news in other ways. Moved to a different location? Changed operations? Added a new product line or service? Hired a new employee? Let me know. Submit a news release or provide the details in an email. That’s my address right there at the bottom of the page.

That applies not only during the holidays, but also throughout the year.
I allocate space in every issue for short stories about businesses and business people. Some of the news releases I receive serve as the basis for longer stories. And some of those stories come with cover photos.

I look forward to the newsletters I’ll receive this holiday season. I also look forward to every opportunity I get to share news about Grand Valley businesses.

As for Cousin Fred and Aunt Ethel. Well, what can I say? You guys rock.