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Christmas cards

2009 December 1
by Gordon Reid

December 1 always panics me into thinking that I will never get any cards written and mailed this year. But that has happened only once, and I repented and sent Easter cards instead. Ideally, one should have a couple of days or at least a solid period of time in which to break the back of the annual send-out. One year, I wrote all my cards on the all-night ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki, completing them on the return journey two days later.

But usually I start by writing a one-page Christmas letter and getting out my address book. So far I have not succumbed to the modern habit of having the names in my computer and running off labels: I prefer to write them by hand. I know some people hate the Christmas letter idea, (and certainly the astounding intelligence of people’s children and their nauseating succession of sporting and school triumphs can be a bit of a turn off) but I have to say I love receiving them from friends, especially those with whom I have almost no contact except on this once a year occasion. So I hope most of mine enjoy my own letter, which I try to keep light and short while giving a bit of news of the past year.

Then this is folded up and inserted into Christmas cards and addressed with a quick “Hail Mary” for the health and well-being of the addressee. I’m afraid I don’t seek out cards which will be cunningly appropriate for the person to whom I am sending them. I usually choose one picture and get a few hundred printed, so everyone gets the same one. A couple of years ago, I rather over-estimated how many I needed, so the more perceptive of my friends may have noticed that they have had the same card three years running! But since it is a wonderful picture of Our Lady and the Christ Child from a stained glass window in St Clement’s, I am quite content to keep sending it out.

I have always sent cards with pictures of the stable at Bethlehem or the Shepherds and Angels or the Wise Men (it would be a bit odd if a priest did not) but I don’t mind robins and stage coaches and even the very American habit of a picture of the whole family in funny red hats! What I do dislike is seeing the Feast referred to as the Holidays, though I quite see that militant atheists have to have some way of avoiding the name of Christ. However, even if they don’t realize it, even they are really calling it “The Holy Day”!

Well, all this has kept me happily from actually getting down to writing my Christmas letter and starting to address the envelopes. A blog is really a fine instrument of procrastination!

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