Today’s window opens on a digital Christmas Card with a visit to Cyberspouse’s Facebook page. He wasn’t interested in Facebook, but he did create a website and a Facebook page for his photography and digital images. The last picture he put on his page was a Christmas card. There are lots of other interesting pictures worth looking at on his page. The Christmas picture was taken at Kingston Lacy, Dorset, a lovely National Trust historic house with beautiful grounds worth exploring at all times of the year.
If you haven’t posted your Christmas cards yet it’s probably too late, except for the hand delivered ones and why would you give cards to people who live nearby? Why do we put ourselves through Christmas card angst? What has gone on behind the scenes before those cards come through your letter box?
I sat down to write the Christmas cards while Terry was watching the football. I was going to be ruthless this year, especially with the price of stamps; no cards for people we were going to see anyway or for people we were never going to see again. That would mean sending hardly any cards at all… Terry roused himself to take an interest, though I couldn’t hear him properly with the television on; why do football commentators have to scream and shout, why can’t they just say quietly and calmly…
…looks like he’s going to get it in the net and save the match, oh dear what a pity, he’s missed.
‘Did we get a card from Brian and Jean?’ said Terry.
‘Oh you mean Alan and Sara, yes, last week, they must do theirs in October. Did you see the card from John and Julie? Well you should be interested, he’s your ex colleague. They’ve got another grandchild… yes you did, Harry’s nearly three now, we sent him that present. Don’t you want to know whether it’s a boy or girl? Guess what they’ve called her… Faustine… unless it’s the bad handwriting.
Are we sending a card to Geoff and Val? You remember, they went to Spain, well they’re back now, Euro trouble. They say we must meet up. No nor do I, I’ll just put Look forward to seeing you in the New Year.
Oh, Deborah says Stephen is engaged to Vicki… she doesn’t say who she is, but it’s about time, I guess they want us to know he isn’t gay after all.
How shall I address the envelope to Wendy? Of course we’re going to send her a card, just because she walked out on your brother…
Shall I save some cards for you to take to the office? I bet they call you Mr. Grumpy, still just as well, we haven’t got many left.
What’s the name of Amelia’s youngest? You should know, they’re your nieces and nephews.
Hasn’t it finished yet… not extra time again… I don’t know why you bother watching football it’s always nil-nil. No I haven’t finished yet, I’ve only got as far as the Ms, I should have bought more stamps.’
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Post Office Lady: ‘Six pounds ninety six pence please.’
Alan: ‘Sorry, I only wanted a book of TWELVE SECOND CLASS stamps.’
Post Office Lady: ‘Yes, six pounds ninety six pence…’
Alan: ‘What! How much are… never mind, just give me one stamp to post this letter.’
Lynne: ‘What do you mean Alan, virtual Christmas Cards?’
Alan: ‘I can design my own card, e-mail it.’
Lynne: ‘But I’ve already bought the cards.’
Alan: ‘Use those for the hand deliveries. We’re not posting at that price.’
Lynne: ‘What about mother?’
Alan: ‘She’s got e-mail.’
Lynne: ‘She only looks at it once a month, she wouldn’t know how to download or whatever it is you do.’
Alan: ‘She’ll manage, it will be in Jay PeG – JPG.’
Lynne: ‘How will you design a card?’
Alan: ‘Use one of my photos, that nice snowy scene I took on the golf course.’
Lynne: ‘The week before they found that body in the copse after the snow melted? That’s not very nice.’
Alan: ‘Your mother won’t know.’
Lynne: ‘They never found who did it, did they?’
Xmas Day at Lynne’s mother’s house
Lynne: ‘Oh, you’ve got a new painting Mother, is it an Impressionist?’
Lynne’s mother: ‘It’s the Christmas card you sent.’
Alan: ‘It can’t be, that wasn’t real.’
Lynne’s mother: ‘Sean next door came round to help me with my e-mails, I didn’t know what all those higgledy piggledy letters and numbers were. He put it on a stick and took it to work; they’ve got an A2 printer. Hey presto, the biggest card I’ve ever had.’
Lynne: ‘Your photograph doesn’t look very good blown up Alan. Oh who’s that near the trees in a red jumper, I thought nobody was out playing that day. No hang on, that’s not a golf club he’s got in his hand, it’s a spade, I don’t think that’s a red jumper, it looks like blood!’
Today is the last posting day for second class in the United Kingdom. After our early Xmas I thought there would be a long relaxing period of sending out a few cards and posting a couple of parcels. I put off working out who to send cards and whose cards to include THE NEWS in; I have written a few messages, but it has reminded me of a friend’s Christmas card story. They got a card from a friend in their previous town; it read something like
Happy Christmas from Christine (mother) and Joe (son )
ps Pete ( husband ) was killed in a car accident.
In a previous incarnation I had a friend who was the practice manager at our doctor’s surgery in a Victorian Villa. The doctor had ambitions to build up a care home, it never got beyond three residents upstairs with windows in the sitting room overlooking the church – and the graveyard. Occasionally my friend would rope some of us in to cover a shift, usually a cosy evening watching telly and knitting with two old ladies ( luckily nothing ever went wrong as I had no medical training ). One time there was a chap as well, ninety two years old with bowel cancer. He complained that he had led a good life and did not deserve to be punished. We wondered why he was not grateful for a long life and had he never noticed illness can strike the good and the bad, young and old…
Reasons to be Fearful
With family from nought to ninety two years on three continents there is no catastrophe I haven’t imagined happening – except the bizarre accident that killed my cousin recently, I had never imagined that one. Having one fear realised does not mean the rest of the family are now magically protected, the rules of the game of life don’t work like that. But most of us, most of the time, are still comforted by the thought that major disasters and cruel twists of fate happen to other people.
Warning: Do you dare to play the game of life? If you don’t want to read about illness and death or you dislike dark humour please avoid this blog, but I hope you will continue to visit my Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday blogs.
Christmas comes early, Advance to Go.
Christmas comes early to fit in with the traveller from abroad, not for any reason of urgency. Secret Santa for the adults. Everyone has a good time, despite worries of germs being brought and weather descending.
Oncologist gives go ahead for next round of chemo, Cyberspouse in good health, move forward two spaces.
Someone from our club has joined the team and a third member has put she and Cyberspouse on the prayer list at her church – Roman Catholic – saying it might be a few weeks before they experience results. Cyberspouse was brought up a catholic until his mother had a row with the priest… Take another shake of the dice.
A relative’s next door neighbours have put C on the prayer list at church – Protestant – they can only use his Christian name due to data protection. Take another shake of the dice.
After the frenetic planning of the early Christmas we can relax, just a couple of parcels and the cards to send… but is it that simple? Play the cancer card and people in the know will not mind if you forget to send. In Australia my mother is the only relative left not on line, I post her card and start yet another Facebook messaging group; exchanging news, pictures and greetings with everyone is more fun. But what of the friends and relatives we haven’t told yet?
Christmas provides more dilemmas for everyone each year. Cards and expensive stamps or e-mailed digital moving musical cards that you can’t actually put on your mantelpiece? Who should we post to; the elderly and anyone living alone, those who don’t like social media, those who always make an effort to write a few snippets of news? Cross off those who only ever say ‘Best wishes from Bert and Betty and family’, who we are never likely to see again….
‘I’m giving the money to charity instead’ – ‘We’re not doing cards this year are we?’ – ‘Come and see the card Bill and Bev sent, I’ve got it up on the computer screen for you.’
Are you doing cards this year or have you gone totally electronic? I can’t imagine many households where not a single cardboard card is written; cards for the children’s teachers or your elderly relatives. Perhaps you are writing out cards for everyone at work and all your clubs, people you are going to see on Xmas Eve or Boxing Day…
How many have you received? The Round Robin Xmas letter that became popular with the advent of home computers and printers has now become an email attachment; as long as you can figure out how to download it, you will receive a year’s worth of news and a dozen colour pictures from your neighbour three houses ago who emigrated to New Zealand.
The electronic newsletter is not to be sneered at if it comes from family or friends you enjoy hearing from; imagine the price of postage if they sent out photo prints to the forty people on their e-mail list. But whether you are composing an upbeat letter about all six members of your family plus the dog, or scribbling a few words on the charity card, what will you write?
‘It’s been a strange year here, I’ll e-mail you in the new year.’ – ‘Annie’s moved back home again, Tom went through a rough patch earlier this year and Bill’s been back in hospital…’ – ‘Must meet up in the new year.’ – ‘Charlie graduated with honours and has landed his dream job in New York … Tim and Tilly presented us with our first grandchildren, adorable twins weighing in at seven pounds each, boy and girl; luckily they have finished renovating their Victorian villa near Hampstead Heath.’
If you are still writing your cards you will be in a dilemma how to downplay your reasonable year in reply to cryptic messages and bad news, or how to make your dull year sound brighter to the family who have everything. In many households there will be conversations such as ‘Are you going to ring your brothers/aunty before Christmas? Okay, I won’t bother writing any news in the card.’ The phone calls never happen, the brief greeting is sent and the next day you receive a card filled with handwritten news from your sister-in-law.
So what are you going to write? It’s the last posting date and if you are an author you are finding it harder to write a Christmas card to the wife deserted by your husband’s brother than to write a whole novel. Happy Christmas when ill health and family problems make that unlikely?
And then there are the cards you send out to people you are never likely to see again, or want to see… or the cards we receive every year with never a word of news, so all we know is that they are still alive. Is it all hypocrisy? Happy Christmas has the moral high ground over Merry Xmas. Being merry is very different from being happy, a condition on a higher spiritual level. Happy Christmas suggests you hope the receiver has had a good year rounded up with satisfying festivities, or a Christmas that will turn out well despite a difficult year.
Best Wishes for 2018 or Happy New Year? However little we know about how 2017 has gone for the people we’re no longer interested in, we would surely wish most people to have the next year go well, or better than the last…