The sun came out today...not for long mind you. But it was quite warm for a while until it thought better of showing its face and retreated behind a cloud again...
The postie brought another Christmas card...I'm wondering if those people who send them seriously early are simply anxious to receive one in return.
I made most of the cards last year...not doing that again. By the time I've fiddled about with cutting out and sprinkling tasteful amounts of sparkly glitter and trying to tame bits of scarlet ribbon, I'd decided it's a great deal easier to buy a box of assorted fat red robins and be done with it.
With the postage being so horrendous I only send cards to a very few people now...makes me sound like a typical scrooge I know but that's tough. At least we no longer receive cards that I puzzle over for weeks after Christmas trying desperately to work out who is John and Joan...perhaps they've all died...those who sent us cards year in and year out and I was still none the wiser as to who they were.
For a few years we used to dread those feckin' awful family newsletters...you know the sort...Jane achieved a First at Cambridge and is engaged to the Earl of somewhere or other and Williams wife is adorable...she has her own interior design company of course and quite how she manages with the little ones and only one nanny I can't imagine...
I never replied to any of them...especially when we were up to our eyes in shit and surrounded by people having tantrums and putting their heads through windows...
There was always a horrible temptation to reply in kind...just to make up an entire family of high achievers...I'd have named them Cosmo and India and given them Doctorates in something with an 'olgy at the end.
My Mother had a bit of a thing about the size of cards...if I sent her a small tasteful card she'd say my brother had sent a lovely big card...so the next year I'd send a really big card...back would come the remark that my brother had sent a small tasteful card...
And of course Mother never quite forgave me for being born on Christmas day...so every year without fail she'd send a card and would write in it...'It's thirty years ago your Father had to have boiled eggs for his Christmas lunch'...change the number of years accordingly. And she never ever sent a birthday card...happy birthday would be written at the very bottom of the Christmas card so I needed a microscope to read it...
Then there were the presents.
Over the years Mother sent some seriously peculiar presents...one was a weird and extremely ugly sort of pot that had supposedly once held a highly prized liqueur...you were supposed to keep it on your mantelpiece and add a slurp to visitors coffee. It was empty so we never had the chance to sample it. Another year brought a set of coffee cups...so tall and so narrow were the tops that they were virtually impossible to drink out of. Father was an artist of some repute and painted many beautiful watercolours...but we opened a present one Christmas of quite possibly the very worst painting he'd ever done in a truly god-awful frame. It was seriously horrible and I put it under the bed. It's probably still there.
Sometimes she'd ask what I'd like as a gift...I'd say Chanel No 5 would be lovely, knowing full well she could afford it...so Mother would send Coty Lavender in a gift box. She'd ask what would Himself like? I'd give her clear details of sizes and colours for a sweater...he'd open his parcel to reveal something a ten year old would struggle into, in bright red...I'd whip it away in case he actually tried to wear it...
And she was adept at leaving the price labels on everything. The Coty Lavender gift box was on special offer at £4-99...the coffee mugs were clearly labelled Reduced! Sale Price!...
I'd like to be enthusiastic...really I would...I'd like to sit at the table going through a list of people and choosing the right card for someone...I'd like to spend ages wrapping up carefully chosen presents in pretty paper...I didn't even mind waiting in a long queue at the Post Office to have my parcels weighed and spending an age sticking stamps on cards.
But now it all seems a bit well, blah. It's rather like going through the motions because it's expected, rather than enjoying the break of the dreariness of winter.
Each year we do slightly less and that suits us...