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Possessive Last Names Make the Baby Jesus Cry

Originally written for my old blog, but I thought it was worth putting here as well.

A Christmas card PSA from your friendly neighborhood copy editor. (Like Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility.)

When signing your Christmas card/letter (or creating return address labels), do not sign them like so:

Merry Christmas from the Wahlund’s!

If your intention is to send Christmas greetings on behalf of your entire family, then you want your last name to be plural, not possessive. For example:

Merry Christmas from the Wahlunds! means there is more than one Wahlund wishing you a Merry Christmas. In fact, the entire Wahlund family wishes you a Merry Christmas!

The possessive form, on the other hand, indicates that something belonging to the Wahlund family is wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas from the Wahlund’s… what? The Wahlund’s cat? The Wahlund’s dog? The Wahlund’s thermonuclear bomb facility?

If your last name ends with an ‘s’ or ‘z’, then your best bet is to use a workaround such as, “Merry Christmas from the Glass family!” Or you could add an -es, which works well for families who have a last name ending in -ch (e.g., “Merry Christmas from the Marches! Love, Meg, Jo, Beth, & Amy.”)

But for the love of all that is holy and innocent, do not use an apostrophe to create a plural form of a surname. Please.

Baby Jesus will thank you.

Sincerely,

Someone who has seen this on her received Christmas cards entirely too often.