A visit to the Bath Postal Museum renews my guilt at failing to post as many Christmas cards as I’d intended. My negligence is another tiny dent in the viability of our postal service. So two reasons to feel guilty.
Every November the same thing happens: I buy second class Christmas stamps as soon as they are issued, smug at my preparedness. It strikes me as indecently early to start writing my cards just then, so I put them to one side.
December dawns, but while the days of the month are in single figures, card writing seems less than urgent. I determine to wait until the Advent calendar doors reveal more than they conceal. By then, I tell myself, I’ll be feeling Christmassy enough to write cards.
And then, all of a sudden, the last posting date is looming. I scrawl a quick signature on the cards that don’t require an accompanying letter and whiz them up to the pillar box. With misplaced optimism, I set aside the others into my letter-writing pile. So far, I’ve refused to succumb to the catch-all standard letter as issued by some friends and family, but maybe I should, as without such drastic recourse, those cards awaiting letters won’t make it as far as the postbox, never mind the intended recipients’ mantlepieces.
For a small subset of these people, it’s no big deal if I miss 25th December. These are my Jewish friends. To them, the Christmas festivities serve simply as a trigger to an annual exchange of news. One of them pointedly writes to me each year on Christmas Day itself, just to remind me that they’re not celebrating. That’s fine by me: the main thing is that I hear from them. They may even interpret my delay as a thoughtful recognition of their faith.
Christmas Day passes, and Boxing Day. Well, who wouldn’t welcome a New Year card instead? I love New Year and its promise of renewed good intentions.
New Year comes and goes; the unwritten cards remain on my desk. I despair until I realise that despite the BBC’s broadcast of 2012 dawning around the globe as it turns on its axis, there are still some quarters in which the New Year has yet to arrive. It’s not too late for me to wish my friends a happy Chinese New Year. That doesn’t fall until next Monday, 23rd January. So all is not yet lost.
新年快樂,as they say in Beijing.