It’s annual family newsletters open season. Yet, because too much serious stuff brings me out in hives, ours is probably the only newsletter circulating that contains no substance at all. The tack taken is Oscar Wilde’s ethos (not his exact words, for you literary quoters out there) not to write anything until we have nothing to say. Far from being a gloat, it tends to romp through the spectacular cock-ups that we have perpetrated over the last year. The kids love helping as it’s a fantastic opportunity for them to point out another ghastly parental failure. So it’s a klutzagram, really. For the klutzagram we have variously been a Star Trek log, a gang of criminals, a holiday brochure as well as a newspaper with no news.
You either love or hate newsletters. Except me, I swither from pole to pole, neither wishy nor washy, just picky about my liking or loathing. Into a mental black hole go the two sides of A4, font size 10, containing either a list of astonishing achievements or gloom; by paragraph 3 I’ve lost the will to live. Perhaps the reply should be a discourse on gloatagram induced depression. Hang on, I remember: peace and harmony, goodwill to all men, even the ones who send Christmas letters on black edged paper. Nonetheless, the jolly ones, on white edged paper, ring my chimes.
Of course, the theory of Christmas cards or letters is sound; sending out a message of joy, goodwill and hope to the people you love the most. Or at least met once on holiday in Sardinia. The reality is sitting with an enormous stack of unwritten cards staring blankly back at you as you poke through coffee stained address books or throw teabags at the computer as it won’t print address labels. By the time they’ve all been stuffed in envelopes with a neatly folded klutzagram, hours will have been consumed which could have been much more usefully spent on hand-making bows for Christmas parcels. In fact, thinking about it, the avoidance of having to hand-make bows is probably the reason I write cards.
Attempting to inject the festive spirit back into a task which might otherwise be a teeny bit dull, several of my girlfriends join me for a card writing evening, arriving clutching stacks of cards, yummy things and wine. During the snack-assisted evening, we manage to write a variable quantity of cards, ranging from one (Cindy, on a particularly hilarious evening) to about 30 (Bobby, who is much more organised than the rest of us). I benefitted from 100% of Cindy’s output; a compliment, methinks. The wearing of deeley boppers, reindeer horns, angel wing hats etc is of course compulsory. During the evening we shriek through enormous amounts of hilarious stories and Thai green curry. Cards written at the end of the evening generally contain misspellings (embarrassing if it’s your own name – or ‘Merry’), wiggly writing and have one or several children forgotten in the signature line. However, it does mean that every card is perfused with a little joy.
Christmas presents other interesting challenges. Recently, I bought my husband a bike for our 25th wedding anniversary, as I felt he deserved something for sticking it out this long. Very elegant, last year’s latest thing. Serious piece of kit. This Christmas, our 13-year-old son intends to buy him a cartoon character bicycle bell, while our 11-year-old daughter wants to purchase some pink streamers for the handlebars. Look out for him on the 26th Dec. He’ll be the one cycling athletically round the district ringing cheerfully, fluttering pinkly in the breeze. A great photo opportunity for next year’s klutzagram.