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!