Whether I'd actually get around to mailing them was another matter. Once I found the whole batch, addressed, stamped, ready to be posted, sitting under a pile of dirty clothes. Unfortunately, it was already February 6, so I decided to hang on to them until the following Christmas, by which time, of course, I'd forgotten all about them. Another time, I put my cards in the mail the day after Christmas, reasoning that I could blame the post office for not delivering them on time. But most years, I ignored the whole business, and eventually people reciprocated by ignoring me.
About five years ago, I decided to turn over a new leaf, and unlike most such leaves, this one has stayed turned. So far, anyway. Relatives who hadn't heard from or of me since I was a child began receiving Christmas cards with pleasant little notes enclosed. "Has your son been brainwashed by some religious zombie cult?" they’d ask my parents, but now they've finally begun to accept that both the cards and I are genuine. And of course they've added me to their Christmas card lists.
For the most part, this is a good thing. I feel like a right proper grownup, a functioning member of society, someone who takes on responsibilities and fulfils them. The trouble is, there's no way to back out now: each year that I get my cards off on time increases the expectation that I will continue to do so every year. Mostly a good thing, as I said, but what if one day I decide I want to be feckless and irresponsible again?
I also question my motives. Most older people enjoy Christmas cards, but my younger friends, especially the irreligious types, seem to find them a bit annoying. Especially since I make a point of choosing cards with a religious message. These folks not only don’t want to get on the Christmas card exchange merry-go-round; they also don't want to be reminded of the baby Jesus or peace on earth and good will to men, etc. They'd prefer to ignore Christmas completely, or, failing that, replace it with some druidic bacchanal.
So am I sending them cards as a sincere expression of friendship? Or simply to wind them up? Probably a bit of both. Anyway, I'm mildly exhilarated to report that I hauled the whole batch down to the Notting Hill Post Office this morning, only to find that the Post Office, a lovely old building that's been there for a century or so, has been shut down to save money. I remembered them talking about this last year, but never dreamed it would happen once the neighbourhood film stars and celebrities came out to protest.
But apparently the celebrities will now have to do as I did, i.e., walk another half mile to Notting Hill Gate to take care of their postal needs. Anyway, who sends letters anymore? If it weren't for Christmas cards, I might never have to set foot in a post office again. Unless, of course, I end up back on the dole. Which is quite possible considering the prices they're getting for stamps these days. Never mind, my cards are sent, it's only December 13, and I've got all the time in the world to go roast some chestnuts on