Archive for November, 2010

The Christmas Card Ritual

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Some people find Christmas cards a chore but I don’t. They are an opportunity to say hello and best wishes, or some similar sincere message. Colourful cards can brighten up many a living room during the dark days before Christmas. That is my take on cards but I know that others will wheel out words such as chore, pointless, expensive, time consuming and even a  lost opportunity to fund tigers and leopards.

That is not to say that the card ritual is without problems. Take my half-sister; I love her dearly [even though I seldom see her owing to geographical considerations] but she is forever sending us a card with a drawing of a  robin or robins on it. Is it the case that she likes robin cards and thinks we will feel the same way?  Whilst I am always thrilled to spot a robin in our garden  the predictability of the robin card, post marked Stanley, can be a bit monotonous. 

Another dilemma can crop up when suddenly we do not get a card from a couple. Was it postal negligence or a case of being wilfully struck off their list of favoured people? Are they ill?  Was it something I said or did not do? And do I send our card to them anyway? I usually do! I send cards to people because I like them and whether or not they send me one is more often than not irrelevant to me.

Then there is the moody blues problem. It is my family job to deliver cards to the neighbours [defined as anywhere within five hundred yards of our home] but if I am so mentally tired that I do not want to engage in conversation the delivering might well be done in the dark. But what if it’s snowing or raining? What if I disturb a pet dog or cat and as a result find myself engaged in a conversation,that is not of my making, with the owner? I grin and bear it and give of myself anyway.

Then there is the task of matching people to card design. Some feedback last July suggests that I do not always get it right. Evey year I send a jolly card to an esteemed and lovely religious couple; invariably my card has a drawing of a Victorian stage coach, or perhaps a snow laden village in late afternoon, but neither drawing acknowledges the Christian message. I need to reconsider that problem.

What about timing? Well this year our plan is to post the cards in the second week of December. I do not want to send them too early and be labelled a Christmas nut.

Merry Christmas to you all and best wishes for 2011.


Categories: Memories

Await More Body Bashing After Rocky And Don

November 27, 2010 2 comments

In August I was a slip of a lad as well as a proud father of the bride, but that was ten pounds ago and I am not talking about money. It gets worse;  Christmas is coming. It is true that my ongoing Nordic walking will aid the morale as tarts, pies and puddings pile in during that mystical period called Christmas, but there will be blood and gore before the January weigh in.

It has been a problem since I was a kid; first there was the spotted dick and custard period followed by a decade of bread and butter – to fuel dashes down the football flanks – then, worst of all, Quality Street and Mars Bars of the just below obese period. 

I was watching a bit of  X Factor tonight, whilst at the same time skimming The Independent, when I suddenly announced to my wife ‘this is it’ I will restart my journey to fitness tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, why wait until tomorrow? Because it is bleeding cold and dark that’s why. There will be no stopping me tomorrow; salads, tomato juices and porridge will be the major drivers of my regime, but not necessarily in that order. Cheescake is for the girls. Exercise is for men. Will those last two sentences get the response they fully deserve?

I withdrew from Facebook several weeks ago and was disappointed to find that as a consequence many of the photographs I submitted to  this site disappeared. It was not intentional and I am sorry. I withdrew from Facebook because I found it too often banal. There were some interesting contributions but not enough to maintain my interest.   

I have previously submitted articles about Christmas time in Sleetburn and Ushaw Moor and despite the risk of too much duplication here is a bit about them. My stepfather very probably ‘borrowed’ a Christmas Tree from the Coal Board’s property in 1952; the smell of pine trees still  evokes fond memories of that period and as a kid I was entranced by tree lights; I will own up: I still am. I also like the sight of rich red Christmas Pudding wrappers.

Christmas was not Christmas without the Beano. The front page always had lots of snow around the drawings. I recall presents of football annuals, especially the one showing Ray Straw scoring for Derby in a 7-2 win against Chesterfield in 1957. I also remember an evening winter walk in the area of Bracken Court; I recall the crunch beneath my feet as boot met four of five inches of snow. Ginger wine and  the film ‘Stagecoach’ with John Wayne also spring to mind as  Christmas memories. Then there was the  tiny model aeroplane I bought from a shop opposite the post office in Sleetburn; I wonder who it was that served me and what happened to her after that.


Categories: Memories