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January 05, 2005

Please Bring the Cards Into Nursery for Cutting

January 5 is the traditional day to bring down the decorations, fail to fit the lights back into their boxes, and explain to the children that no, they can't eat every candy cane remaining all at once. The house is now strewn romantically with pine branches, all of which fell off the tree as we manhandled it out of the house. I suppose we should do something about that, though it does smell nice. Digression: I pulled out the new bottle of Domestos toilet cleaner, to discover it was a Christmas special 'Mistletoe and Pine' scent. Ho ho ho.

And I'm sitting with a vast pile of cards, checking them over for addresses, phone numbers and other snippets of information, and reading the round robin letters. Round robin letters have had a bad press recently, and we've had fewer of them this year in consequence. A shame, because I liked them, and have even perpetrated them in the past. I understand that some people get round robins from people they hardly know, but most of ours were from friends we wish we saw more often, or cousins we like but don't quite manage to visit, and it's good to hear what they're up to. It's not really a very big leap from the round robin Christmas card to the blog, after all.

I was reminded of the 'theoretical reader' the other day, when my daughter complained about having to write thank you letters to people she doesn't really know. She quite understood that it's the flipside of accepting presents from people you don't know very well but who think kindly of you, but was having trouble with the actual craft of writing. I rattled off a dozen different strategies for writing thank you letters, and one of them was 'just imagine you're writing the letter to someone you do know'. And she cheerfully went off then and wrote the letters. This startled me, because I've never written anything with a Particular Reader in mind. I suppose I hope that somebody is reading; I am not writing, for example, to my future self.

We seemed to get more hand-made cards this year; at least a dozen, ranging from inkjetted family injokes like ours, through to individual embroideries. My favourite was Sue Jones' beautiful photo of a weathered stained glass window in Shrewsbury cathedral. Our very last Christmas activity is to hand them all over to the nursery for cutting.

Posted by Alison Scott at January 5, 2005 11:55 PM


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