December is a frenetic month.Like everyone else, I’m scrambling to get work deadlines done and dusted, sort the Christmas shopping (and wrapping – I always forget that bit) and stressing about lunch on Christmas Day.
On the plus side the tree is up (and unlike previous years it’s surprisingly unwonky) but on the minus side I still haven’t fixed the lights or made up beds for guests.
But in amongst the seasonal chaos one event puts a spring in my step every day – and that’s the sound of the post arriving.
Sending Christmas cards feels like a chore but the pleasure they bring is immeasurable. Friends and family are so far-flung these days that it’s the one time of the year when we can catch up with each other.
I still exchange cards with the mother of Jenny, my closest university friend. Jenny died in her early 20s, tragically young, but it means a lot to both her mum and to me that we stay in touch. Similarly, I love getting cards from old Evening Standard pals, especially David Meilton’s annual take on the comic side of life, and with friends I met at the school gate when my children were little. If it wasn’t for Christmas cards we might have lost track of each other long ago.
I don’t even mind round robins any more, mainly because I like hearing what friends are up to. Fewer people send them these days though and the boasting ones – along the lines of Jemima has just passed grade eight oboe at the age of six or Henry is now fluent in Japanese – thankfully don’t figure at all.
Best of all, Christmas cards are stunning to look at. This year’s collection includes my dad’s photograph of a robin, a lovely picture of my much-missed friend Miranda and my sister’s Thornback and Peel print of a sprout stick.
Talking of sprouts, I can’t wait to try the wonderful Anna Jones’s recipe for sprouts with sticky dates and sherry vinegar. Her book, A Modern Way to Cook, is my current favourite and this year could be the first in a decade where I haven’t served up soggy sprouts for Christmas lunch.
On that note, thank you for reading my blog this year and have a fantastic Christmas.
If you’re looking for a bit of festive respite, my novella about two rival weather forecasters is 99p on Amazon right now. It’s called White Christmas and is available here.