With the Christmas last post deadline fast approaching, I've been busy writing lots of addresses on envelopes. You know, the sort of addresses you only write to once a year, belonging to people you no longer see but can't bear to lose contact with. And, every December, I have the same pangs of mild guilt as I write the first line of each address on each envelope. Like this...
To <Forename 1> <Surname 1>
Hmmm, I wonder if that's still the right address? He didn't send me a card last year, so maybe he's moved. Maybe he thinks I didn't send him a card last year, even though I did. But if he's moved then I sent it to the wrong address, so he never got it, so he thinks I don't care any more, whereas I do. Maybe I'm wasting my time every year sending a card to an old address where the new owners just throw it in the bin. But not sending a card at all would be wildly impolite. Oh it's so difficult when you only communicate once a year.
To the <Surname 2> family
Hmmm, I wonder if I ought to reply to the letter they sent in their card 12 months ago. There were lots of fascinating things in that letter, but it's probably too late to reply to them now. I bet that this year's card, and letter, are winging their way through the post as we speak. Maybe I ought to wait until they arrive and then reply to this year's letter in this year's card. But if I wait too long I'll miss the last posting date, and then they'll get my card too late. Perhaps I won't reply to their letters at all, I'll just sign my card and post it. Even though that would be wildly impolite given all their effort in writing me an annual letter. Oh it's so difficult when you only communicate once a year.
To <Forename 3> <Surname 3B>
Hmmm, I wonder if that's still her surname? There was a hint in last year's card that she was having marital problems, so maybe she's split up with her evil cheating husband by now. In which case the last thing she'll want is to see <Surname 3B> on the envelope. But I can't risk going back to her maiden name and calling her <Surname 3A> because, if the two of them are still together, that would be wildly impolite. I've got to write the same surname as last Christmas, but I could be really putting my foot in it. Oh it's so difficult when you only communicate once a year.
To <Forename 4i> and <Forename 4ii> <Surname 4>
Hmmm, I wonder if both of them are still alive. There was a hint in last year's card that he was distinctly unwell, perhaps chronically, so maybe she's been widowed by now. In which case the last thing she'll want to see is <Forename 4ii> on the envelope. But I can't risk missing him off because, if he's still hanging on, that would be wildly impolite. I've got to write the same two forenames as last Christmas, but I could be really putting my foot in it. Oh it's so difficult when you only communicate once a year.
To <Forename 5> <Surname 5>
Hmmm, I wonder if he's still alive. He's getting on a bit, and he didn't send me a card last year. If he has died in the last couple of years then nobody would have thought to write to me about it, because all I do is send him a Christmas card every year. But maybe this year I'm sending a card to a dead man's house. The new owners might be throroughly sick of receiving a dead man's mail by now. And I'll probably now carry on sending a pointless card to a dead man every year because nobody's told me it's pointless. But I can't risk not sending a card, because assuming that he might have died would be wildly impolite. Oh it's so difficult when you only communicate once a year.