Whatever the government seems to think, it does not look like it is going to be, relaxed rules or not, a happy Christmas, although the vaccine news suggests a rather better New Year is in prospect. At the moment, as far as Christmas is concerned, it is a case of making the best of a bad job.
Now it is time to decide what to do about Christmas cards. Can one in all conscience send people something wishing them a Happy Christmas given that the planned five days of virus spreading is unlikely to result in a Happy New Year? The problem about not sending them is one does do not see most recipients from one year's end to the next, so if they do not get one, they fear the worst and this year they could be right. So no cards is not an option.
Mine mostly go to people I have known for a very long time, but seldom see since they are scattered all over, and I am basically reminding them I am still here because, like them, I have long ago exceeded the allotted scores of years plus 10. Why cast more gloom on a season already overcast by raising the spectre that this year the end came?
Not sending relieves me of a chore, although at present chores are good things as they help pass the time. For some years, I have made my own cards by pasting a photograph of a watercolour I have painted during the preceding 12 months on a plain card with an appropriate message in red felt pen. It is hard work but harder is deciding what to write in them.
Bought cards come with suitable platitudes, pagan, festive, or religious. Wishing a Happy
whatever – some people do not include the word Christmas
– seems inappropriate, while Season's Greetings
is pretty meaningless and Happy Holidays
a vain hope at the best of times. Commercial cards relieve one of such worries.
I have decided I will make my cards as usual, and wish recipients not a merry or happy anything but A Guid New Year
. This gets round wrongly describing the kind of Christmas we are all likely to have, demonstrates that I'm still here and also that it is just possible 2021 will not be as awful as 2020.
My friend Chris lives in a nice house on a lovely street and attached to a lamppost on that street there is a sign, a sign which I am almost certain he has paid little or no attention to over the years he has lived there, apart that is from my mentioning it every time I visit. For the sign consists of one word – cemetery – and points toward the unassuming entrance to the graveyard directly across the road. Chris is a fit, enthusiastic and gregarious character. A man entering his late youth (early 70s) with an optimistic view toward the future and I am sure unlike me he still does not pay any attention to the sign, which in these straitened times, acts as a reminder to some of us of our mortality.
Directly inside the entrance there is the now obligatory list of rules and regulations, augmented by a newish, individual sign which strikes me as particularly odd every time I visit, stating in bold letters – 'No Dog Fouling'. I mean, firstly what kind of game or sport do you play in a cemetery? Secondly, what kind of game would you play in a cemetery that then involves a dog? Thirdly, even if you could think of a game played in the cemetery, with a dog, what kind of person would then sink so low as to cheat by fouling the poor wee thing in order presumably to gain victory over it? Some people I ask you!
These rules appear to be evolving and subject to change within the grounds as at the bottom, less salubrious entrance/exit there is a small bench with an adjacent brown bin, which in the summer had a poster attached proclaiming 'Dog Waste Only'. Again, on first seeing this my thoughts drifted, surely no one would even try, for heaven's sake how would they manage to climb up and however over the bin for a start? The poster has gone now and I can't help wondering if maybe even someone actually did and that is what lead to them installing that sign at the top entrance?
Interpretation, clarification and meaning, sometimes mixed with a wee bit of imagination can take you to strange places. For example, I remember a few years ago seeing a headline in an online news site proclaiming 'Paisley man jailed for keeping fighting dogs', my mind adding the subtext even though his mates told him to stop and the dog wasn't worth it. My wife used to own a florist and St Valentine's Day was the highlight of the year trade-wise. One year, a few days before the celebration of the patron saint of love, I overheard her taking a message for the card to go with the 24 beautiful red roses ordered. And will you want kisses with that she asked, oh, yes at the very least, came the reply (in my head anyway).
I remember a colleague telling me her mother used to get really annoyed when hot-desking was first introduced in offices, as when she came into work at night her chair had always been adjusted, so she had to spend time getting it just right. Until that is, I advised her that I knew someone who worked in the same place and who worked days, who experienced the very same problem.
The worst one, however, was when I joined the astronomical society, swiftly asking for my money back as it turned out there were in fact only two other members.
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