Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas cards, round robins and writer's block

One of the best things about this time of year is that you actually get real post. I know it's more eco-friendly to send e-cards, but there's something special about envelopes coming through the letterbox with the handwriting of friends and family.

I even like the 'round robin' letters that come with them. It's easy to sneer (thanks Simon Hoggart and his numerous crowd-sourcing readers), but I care about my old friends, even if I rarely see them, and I genuinely like to know how they are.

The problem comes when I try to write one of these letters myself. Partly it's to do with time, because until I actually stop work for Christmas I don't have any - and last posting dates wait for no-one. And partly it's because I don't know what to say.

On more New Year's Eves than I'd like to admit, I've found myself saying 'thank God that's over'. But it's not even Christmas Eve yet and I can't wait to see the back of 2011. Life's too short to wish your life away, I know, but I've hated this year.

There's been no major trauma, no bereavement and only minor illnesses, so I shouldn't complain. There must have been some interesting and fun times, but I'd have to check my diary.

But there's nothing I feel about this year that I feel I can tell anyone. (So I'm telling you. Sorry.)

So what do I put in the letter?

A 'what I did on my holidays' essay? (Because those were the interesting and fun times.)
An update about other people's children? (My nieces and nephews, because I have none of my own to write about.)
The truth? (That for much of this year I've been stressed at work, worried about getting older, and terrified by the government.)
A short and sweet 'mustn't grumble'? (Because I know I shouldn't.)

I give up and scribble in each card: 'Happy Christmas. I hope this finds you all well. With love.'

And if that's what my friends wish for me, too, it's enough.

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