I like to think of myself as a cheery sort of person. Most of the time. In spite of wicked rumours circulating recently on some blogs and on twitter, I'm not a grump. Well, not much.
And I love, I adore and get 'excited-as-a-kid-in-spite-of-spending-hours-and-hours-in-the-bloody-kitchen' about.... Christmas. Love it. Really enjoy every minute of it. Ok, ok... I can do without the shops putting up the tinsel in September. In fact, I can do without the shops at all. If I haven't bought the majority of my Christmas presents well before December, then they'll probably not be getting bought at all. And I like choosing presents. I can never, ever decide what I would like. But I get enormous pleasure out of trying to surprise someone with something that they've really always wanted. Or something that they didn't know they wanted 'til I bought it. (Actually, giving something really inappropriate can be a good game too. As my sister will tell you. But that's another story.)
Both Sarah and I sing in various choirs, so we're pretty busy at this time of year. And I love Christmas carols; I can't get enough of them. I was in the Liverpool Phil for years, and they did about twenty carol concerts each December and I loved them all.
There is one Christmas tradition I can't abide.
There is one festive custom that I cannot understand. No, not the endless one-off 'Christmas Specials' that festoon the television screen. Nor even the ubiquitous repeats of films that nobody really enjoyed the first time round but which are 'safe' for viewing on the one day of the year when everyone - from mum, dad and the kids to the maiden aunt - will be sitting round the TV together. I can even, at a pinch, understand why workers spend extortionate amounts of money on second-rate food and overpriced booze in the name of office Christmas cheer.
What I can't understand is this: the giving of Christmas cards to people you see every day. Or even people you'll be seeing on Christmas Day (or at any time over the festive season). The handing over of a piece of paper telling them what you could just as easily tell them to their face. I simply don't get it; cannot see the point. Don't get me wrong. I send out cards to all those friends and rellies who live far away, and for some far-flung friends it's the only contact that there'll be all year. And it's none the worse for that.
But to people at work? Or in your street?
Anyone to whom you can wish a 'Happy Christmas' in person is in no need of a card. Just don't forget to wish them 'Season's Greetings' face-to-face.