Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas letters

This is a cushion cover that I bought… no, alas, I didn’t make it… at a Christmas fair last weekend. Pretty, isn’t it? The chair belonged to my late parents-in-law and it was languishing in a rather scruffy state, the wickerwork unravelling and the seat shabby, till Mr Life a few years ago bought himself a book of instructions and redid the wickerwork. I then got an upholsterer (yes, I know, I should have done it myself) to redo the seat. The cushion is the sum total of our Christmas decorations so far. I’m not one for decorating the house this early in December, which is just as well since I don’t have time.

I’ve been doing our Christmas letters. We have quite a few friends abroad or in England and in days gone by I used to hand-write letters to all these people. I felt that the computer catch-all letter was a bit impersonal, though actually I’ve always been happy to get these. I like getting news from people who wouldn’t actually have time to write individual long letters. Eventually I succumbed, but instead of sending everyone the same letter, I tailor it for each of the 33 (this year) recipients, adding or subtracting personal bits, varying the jokes a bit and making more subtle changes - such as when I’ve referred to “my brother” in a letter to those who don’t know him, I change it to his name for those who do. This is actually quite a footer – I think this is a Scottish word, is it? It means a fiddly and time-consuming task. But I quite enjoy it.

The manufacturing process is greatly slowed by my wandering brain. After I’ve adjusted each letter, I print it out. Mr Life supplies me with the requisite number of bits of paper with a nice border (this year) of Christmas trees at the top of the first page, and I print “current page” twice to get the paper double-sided. Or, that’s the idea. But sometimes I put the paper in the wrong way round; sometimes I put it in the same way twice, thus getting a mysterious double-typed message that Sherlock Holmes might have enjoyed deciphering; sometimes I get the border on the second page instead of the first. But eventually, with some unChristmassy muttering from me, they get finished and the letters go into cards, often with a photo also. Actually sending them involves one of us standing in a long queue at one of our ever-decreasing number of Post Offices so that the envelopes can be weighed and stamped and then paid for at huge expense.

And I think: why do I do this? I could send most of these people emails with photo attachments. I imagine that I’m one of the last generation who’ll bother. But I do like getting other people’s Christmas letters and cards when I come home from work, a nice pile behind the door. Emails are good but just not quite the same.

Anyway, I must return to writing notes on “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”. I want to give them out to the class at 9 am tomorrow, less than 12 hours from now, so less of this blethering. On, on!

16 comments:

  1. The Christmas letter is a nice tradition. There's something civilized about using actual paper with actual writing or printing on it. I imagine your friends and loved ones greatly look forward to your letters.

    FYI, I've moved blogs, and now have an ID which isn't associated with my name. I hope you'll feel welcome to visit the new "place", although it's rather bare and hasn't been "decorated" yet.

    http://annecdotally.blogspot.com/

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  2. I am buried under paper as I speak, and if there is one thing I loathe, it is coming down to an unholy mess in the morning, so I think bed time is far off for me. I have nothing Christmassy up yet - just trying to wrap the presents which have to go, like Diana's. Sigh. I always swear I will be ready early "next" year. And cards? Letters? Hahahahahahhahohohohohoho.... groan.

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  3. Emails are most definitely not the same. I don't send a letter as such but I send cards with a photo mosaic of of our year. I, too, LOVE getting christmas mail

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  4. I send Christmas letters too, mostly for the benefit of aunts. I am downsizing my list this year though, and everyone gets the same letter but a personalised greeting in their hand-made card.

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  5. How I love and identify with this Post especially the photo copy bit! At the moment I am 'footering' (how I love that expressive word) around doing my Christmas mail sadly stroking off names no longer with us since last year. I am so glad that daughter Fairlie has continued on the Christmas letter tradition. Merry Christmas to everyone in Scotland.

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  6. I also have trouble with putting up decorations this early. I'm used to going to buy a "real" tree sometime between the 20th and 23rd, and that's when the decorations come out. My Pennsylvanian husband is used to having a fake tree, and it goes up the first weekend of December. In his family this also involved the tree being on a platform with a model train and village setup. Actually it was three model trains, one each for M, his brother, and his Dad.

    We have a twiggy wreath with red berries and copper stars on our front door, that's it so far.

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  7. After such a great start finishing my shopping in Novemeber, I've goemn flat and my cards are still in their packages:-( A "chore" for today maybe. I only do a few letters nowdays.

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  8. the Christmas card tradition does not exist in France. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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  9. I admire your dedication and am sure that the recipients are very glad to receive your cards and letters - I know I would be. I, on the other hand, am so lazy that I am considering not even sending Christmas cards this year. That's bad, isn't it?

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  10. Love the chair and cushion. I am with you on not having decorated our house yet for Christmas.
    There is something very special about sending and receiving letters, much nicer than emails!
    Kimx

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  11. LOL - I see I did a couple of good typos, too much of a rush!

    Cards and letters have now been sent from our house hold!

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  12. It's so funny now Isabelle -- whenever you post a picture inside the house, I scour my memory to imagine just where it's taken from -- I love it! (This one took me a minute but I got it -- the door threw me off.)

    I'm with you -- I still love a good letter. My letters are just waiting for the copies of the pictures to arrive in the mail so I can "marry" them up and get them in the mail!

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  13. I know some people groan about getting Christmas letters, but I love them.

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  14. hello! Your blog is nice ....
    Would you exchange a link with my site?

    http://follerumba.blogspot.com/

    Ciao ciao from Italy

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  15. I absolutely adore the chair. The wickering is wonderful! :)

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  16. Mr Life is very clever to have fixed the wickerwork on your chair. I couldn't imagine doing something like that!
    Two of my cousins send out a 'family letter' with their Christmas cards, and I love reading them. Doesn't bother me that they are mass produced on the cousins' computers - it's all news to me.
    As for e-cards, I have one or two friends who send those instead of regular cards, and I get cranky. I just delete them, and when they ask did you get my email? I say no, did you get my card?
    Sorry to be narky, but I like tradition.

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