Are you bracing yourself for them? Do you write them? Do you enjoy those cheerful missives from obscure relatives?

What do you think Austen’s characters would say?

My dear Wickham has acquitted himself most gallantly in protecting us from crazed weavers; just imagine, they complain of working 18 hours a day yet still find time to roam the streets in a most vulgar way, bemoaning their lot, hurling filth at the regiment’s handsome regimentals, and demanding an extra 2d a day! Talking of which, I regret my dear Wickham has suffered misfortune at the gaming tables once again, and if every member of the family could contribute a little, say 2 guineas, or possibly 5, we could overcome our temporary embarrassment and not bring shame upon the family… Captain and Mrs. George Wickham

Oh I am so happy in the great house and magnificent grounds of Pemberley; I roam for hours exclaiming aloud over my extreme felicity and great good fortune in marrying my dear Mr. Darcy, who naturally is busy with his trout streams and other male pursuits. We are both so well occupied that we meet but little, although I have taken the fortuitous step of drawing the route to the bedchamber in chalk upon the floors so that we may at least meet at night; Mr. Darcy suggested it after I lost my way and had to spend the night in such places as the third minor stillroom and once sharing the housekeeper’s bed. She sang her master’s praises all night long and I scarce got a wink of sleep… Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy

Ann proves herself a formidable ally against the enemy. Upon boarding our latest prize I was most diverted to find her at my side, her face black with powder and a knife clenched between her teeth, uttering terrible oaths and despatching several terrified Frenchies with violent blows. She demands a share of the prize money and her ration of rum but you will be pleased to learn she occupies herself also with more womanly pursuits such as comforting the wounded. Our ship’s surgeon says she beats any he has seen in the execution of a fast amputation… Captain and Mrs. Frederick Wentworth

In our first year of married bliss dear Mr. Knightley is so agreeable and charming it is quite as it is before which pleases Mr. Woodhouse mightily. Mr. Knightley spends most of the day with us, although he makes haste to return from visits to Donwell Abbey before nightfall, as for Mr. Woodhouse’s peace of mind we now have a dozen armed guards and as many mastiffs patrolling the garden and chicken coop after dark. I believe that Mr. Woodhouse will eventually not need to knock on our bedchamber door enquiring after our health at night; he is easily alarmed by various groans and other sounds that emanate from that room–he is all tender consideration!… Mr. and Mrs. George Knightley

Edmund and I enjoy the most perfect felicity and harmony and delight in counting the twelve toes of our beloved daughter Julia… Reverend and Mrs. Edmund Bertram

Happy birthday, Jane Austen, and sorry for the many liberties I’ve taken for so long… Give us your ideas for snippets of news from Austen characters’ holiday letters.

Why, may you ask, is there a pic of a naked man on this post? God knows why but I see them all over the place. I think it has something to do with writing romance.