A displacement activity
For those of us who buy Christmas cards in the January sales, the annual cupboard-delve can be a salutary lesson in the dreadful ravages which have been afflicted on one's taste by the day after Boxing Day, even when one has sedulously resisted all special Christmas television programmes, and has been unable to watch commercial stations at all for at least six weeks on account of the intolerable seasonal adverts. (No: I don't want a new sofa. No: a table groaning with £150 worth of tasty Christmas morsels from Iceland - for those Christmas buffet meals which are, in any event, a complete mystery to me - does not have me salivating with anticipation. Cheese on toast will be more than adequate, thank you.)
One pack of cards of which I really was quite proud when I bought them on a cold, rainy day late last December was one with oversized reproductions of one of the paintings by that-bloke-who-paints-sheep-in-the snow-and-whose-name-escapes-me. These were ear-marked for my mother's siblings. (My maternal grandfather was a sheep farmer: it is something of a family tradition to send cards with sheep on them.) Only earlier this week, I was wondering how much they would cost to post, what with the pricing system having altered, and envelopes now being charged on their dimensions. Anyway, I'm not going to find out. Not this year. The cards have hidden themselves. Completely.
On the plus side, I have managed to turn up the roll of Christmas gift label stickers which went AWOL at least two years ago. Although I'm pretty sure they only ventured back into the light because they know damn well I bought a replacement roll yesterday.
Apart from never liking the cards I bought almost twelve months previously when I see them again in the cold light of day, my other great Christmas card failing is a tendency to surround myself with all the cards in my possession and choose the ones I think certain individuals will like. (A sensible person in this situation would just work through the available cards one by one, and not give a stuff whether the individual recipients would particularly like them.)
This deplorable pandering to the perceived preferences of my friends means that I have half-packets of cards dating back years. But I never dare use them up for fear that I might commit the appalling social solecism of sending someone exactly the same card I sent him or her only five years ago!! (Yes, thank you: I do realise that nobody remembers the cards they were sent even last year, let alone who sent which one. It's an irrational fear, but it's one which haunts me...)
But what do you do with cards you daren't send? You can't just throw them out: that would be wasteful. You can't send them, in their loosely-flapping, ripped, cellophane covering, to the charity shop in the hands of your trusty chauffeur with the massively-developed upper body strength.
I probably need to work out some sort of degree-of-memory-retention equation to allow me to calculate exactly when it would be safe for me to put the vintage cards back into circulation. (Well, either that or start keeping a list of what I've sent to whom.)
So. There are dozens and dozens of such cards lurking in the sideboard, waiting for their time to come again. And, even without the large, impressive cards with the sheep painting by Wotsisname, there are 113 brand new cards bought since last Christmas. In fact, I'm seriously considering moving out into the garden shed so that the cards can have room to spread out a bit.
The moral of all of which is that I absolutely must not, under any circumstances, buy so much as one single, solitary Christmas card Ever Again until such time as even the most rigorous search of the sideboard and its immediate environs fails to produce even the slightest hint of anything festive.
There is also probably a second moral here: something to the effect that writing about writing Christmas cards on one's blog is not really the optimum way to get one's Christmas cards written....