Getting your cards used to be a euphemism for getting the sack – being sent up the drive (as in Mental Hospitals) – the unplanned ending of employment. But just now it is lovely to get our cards – Christmas greetings delivered or given by hand or by our postman.
Last week we had a day to celebrate our posties – a good idea – still dressed in red. Often in shorts even through the winter. Delivering only once a day these past rather many years, but sticking to a reliable rhythm which respects weekdays as different from Sundays and Bank Holidays. Thank goodness.
We send a lot of cards and receive a lot. At this time of Advent they have become an extra seal in the family mortar after dinner. There is talk, there is the ‘Quick’ crossword, and there are the cards. Those delivered this day are piled untidily beside the carriage clock on the sideboard, now to come to table, divided between those present, and to be explored. First there is the stamp and post stamp – less informative than it used to be as there seem to be few variations as the number of distribution offices has been ‘rationalised’. There is the colour of envelope – so lively to find one in red (red letter) or green. Handwriting tells of schooling, confidence and the coming of age-related tremor. Most written in ballpoint, some with a proper ink pen, some with printed labels. Are we addressed singly, just with our Christian names, or do we have a title? What title? All these give clues toward who has sent this card. It is a good game
The cards themselves are often very beautiful, some carry marks of the individual – cards designed by or actually made by the writer. A fashion this year for printed cards designed by small persons as a school exercise – pretty impressive – must remember to say so. It is interesting to see who is supporting which charity. But mostly we are pleased to read the signatures and messages – Maybe only short – but it is a confirmation of life and the continued wish for sharing. Some are longer – notes of triumphs, funnies, worries or tragedies. These years of covid and lockdown have brought much shared sadness, stresses, deaths and lingering illness.
These cards have gained extra importance. So much of the network of interactions which confirmed us, has been broken and fragmented. These firm bolts – long established and enduring – say ‘we are who we are – who we were and who we will be’. We will write. We will read and smile or weep as we remember, reflect, enjoy or rage.
Some bolts have been lost – coordinates no longer there. Yet we know where they were and what they have meant and given to us – In shadow form they will always be there, as long as we are here.
But we will not always be here – other than in memories or in print. Cards and stars.