Teresa Ashby posted recently 0n the subject of the dreaded annual round robin http://teresaashby.blogspot.com/2010/12/annual-round-robin.html but I thought I'd add my thoughts.
Unlike Teresa, who is uncompromising and fearless in her approach, we don't shred these, but we collect them until after Christmas, and then award a prize for the best/worst. One of our regular winners is yet to arrive (maybe we've been struck off?) but this year I would like to announce that the winners are (cue fanfare) Mr. and Mrs. H.
These people are barely known to us, and have - wait for it - seven children, plus enough grandchildren to people a small village. They are all (naturally) high achievers, and appear to be scattered across the globe, bringing happiness and prosperity to all those who are fortunate to come across them. I lost track after I'd counted 27 names - not one of whom I'd heard of - and immediately awarded them the prize. Really, there was no contest.
Why do people do this? My brother, one of the worst offenders (hello there, Steve) says "people want to know". But I say, no, they don't. If they have no children, they don't necessarily want to hear about yours. If they have - er - low-achieving children, they certainly don't want to hear about all those straight As. And in any case, the people who really want to know (family; close friends) will have been told already.
There is an entertaining little book - The Cat that could Open the Fridge - which is a collection of round robin gems (eg a school report that said "in Sophia, you have given us a little diamond. All we have to do his polish it". See what I mean?).
But after all this, I'm afraid I have to confess that we enjoy the round robins, if for all the wrong reasons. For without them, there would be no competiton. And for us, that is part of the fun of Christmas.