Harbinger of the festive season

I HAVE seen my first Christmas card — the harbinger of the festive season. I should write to the newspapers like they do in England when they hear the first cuckoo, which is the harbinger of spring.

The difference is that cuckoos turn up in limited numbers but Christmas cards drop out of the sky in pallet loads. One day the shops are doing business as usual, the next they’re wall-to-wall festive yo-ho-hos with bits of holly, candles and tinkly bells.

People complain the magic is disappearing from Christmas but the way all those cards suddenly appear while you’re blowing your nose is pretty bloody magical. Do they really come in something as mundane as a truck, or is it a kind of dry run by Santa, preparing for the real thing in three months time?

If it is Santa then I have to say that being in the vicinity of 150 years old has done nothing for his sense of good taste.

I am not sending anyone a Christmas card of Santa with his trousers round his ankles, nor one that gives a tinny rendering of Jingle Bells every time I open it, stand it on a sideboard, store it in the attic, bury it in the garden or hit it repeatedly with a hammer. I don’t know what kind of batteries they run on, but it you marketed them industrially you could run whole cities on them.

I suppose I could send one to someone I don’t like.

Nor will I send Christmas cards with what only an illiterate zombie in his wildest dreams would call poetry.

Such horrors as:

Santa’s coming, hear his sleighthis festive time of yearHave a jolly Christmas Dayof love and of good cheer. 

Do people write these things for money? Or because they’ have nasty personalities?

And cards with snow are out, especially when it’s on window sills framing a lounge room the size of a cathedral complete with Christmas tree, glass balls, gaily wrapped gifts and a rocking horse (why is there always a rocking horse – where are the festive death ray guns, the jolly ninja assassins, the deformed, mutant fashion models?).

And anyway, Christmas cards are over-rated. We make a list each year of people we didn’t send cards to, but who sent us one. The next year we send them one; but they don’t send us one because we forgot them the previous year So we dump them the following year, but they’ve made the same list we made the first year and, lo and behold, up turns their bloody card. It’s ridiculous.

My Pommie mate Patrick and I have cracked the Christmas card problem. We found one we liked 15 years ago and it’s been going backwards and forwards ever since.

We cross out the bits that say “To:” and “From:” and change them round, bung it in an envelope and off it goes. All we pay is postage. The card, at 20p, has been a good investment. And it has taste. It has your standard Christmas-issue baby Jesus, with his Mum wearing the standard beatific smile, and it makes me feel there’s hope for the human race yet.

Mind you, you only have to check out some of the Christmas cards out there to know that’s a ridiculous notion.