Happy Christmas! How are you all? How can I help you feel better?
The problem with Yuletide letters is they’re all about us. How can we make it more you-focused? Tell us, for example, how much you enjoyed Prague at Easter, all done up in flowers and ribbons, and selling bangle-shaped doughnuts (you know, that’s such a good look for you…). Did you catch a glimpse of Mr Obama, or just the enthusiastic cavalcades zooming about?
How did you manage with your rather quiet summer of short visits and day trips? Did you prefer kite-flying or roller-skating? Why have you decided not to go skiing next February? How many of your young companions can’t be trusted not to get lost in the snowy wastes, after that fiasco at the firework display?
Is your vintage Aga working? How do you find the gentle warmth and slightly annoying way it never can get up to stir-frying heat? Do you like slow roasted stuff? How much laundry can you cram into your new kitchen to make use of the energy? What sophisms do you use to convince yourself the carbon foodprint – genuine slip there – isn’t really so bad as long as you don’t use any other heat source in the kitchen? Does growing your own leeks count, or did all your veg suffer so much in the drought that it was hardly worthwhile? Yes, drought. Where were you in August? And how much effort did you have to put in to rescue any kind of tomato crop from the blight? Did you have any apples to speak of? Could it be because you had to destroy the bees’ nest in your bedroom chimney last year, so only had moths this year? Are you a little tired of insect infestations, and do you worry that the house has a grudge?
And here’s one: how many of your young relatives got a distinction at Grade 7 flute, and how did it make you feel? How did their siblings cope with their merit at Grade 2 clarinet? Was it a blood-bath or merely a stand-off? Well done.
And another: how many of the 10 courses of the ‘menu decouverte’ at Top Chef Raymond Blanc’s flagship Manoir des Quat’ Saisons could you manage, and how many of them contained duck and marmalade? How many times now have you asked for a Martini and then cracked when they asked you what kind, so you ended up with champagne after all? Were you sure you didn’t have to drive anywhere when you finally got round to experimenting with recipes? Can you remember what you decided?
Are your ears any better, now that you’ve decided homeopathy can’t be any less effective than conventional medicine? I do hope so. How distressed are you that swine flu is still a threat after all these months, when the kids could so easily have brought it home from school and Got It Over With? Are you otherwise in reasonable health, all things considered? If not, I hope it won’t last long. Er.
How long do you think it will take you to finish the en-suite bathroom? Have you found appropriate tiles and someone who will finalise the plumbing? What colour will your cohabitee choose, and how will you persuade them that your idea was better?
Which of your senior relations has recently moved back to their own house after a prolonged stint in residential care? Is it an improvement? What will you worry about now?
Do please write back with your contributions, and in the meantime, what kind of Christmas are you having? Hope it’s lovely,