Once people reach a certain stage in life, they start sending out a Christmas Letter to all their friends and acquaintances. I’m not entirely sure what causes one to cross this particular threshold, in the case of some whose festive missives I’ve read, it would appear that having high-performing offspring is the catalyst. Mercifully, the day when I spawn offspring – high performance, high maintenance or otherwise – appears to still be a long way off, and perhaps as a result I have never written a Christmas Letter.
Perhaps the advent and perplexing popularity of social networking sites will put paid to the Christmas Letter. Certainly there should be little need to summarise one’s news annually when those who care have been notified of every status change and toilet visit along the way.
My mother, not being ‘on’ Facebook (yet), sends out a Christmas letter every year. One Christmas a few years back, I was somewhat dismayed to read her letter and discover that, following hard on the heels of a paragraph detailing my sister’s exciting life, my year’s activity was summed up with a single sentence, the precise wording of which I can’t recall, but I know ran along the lines of “Andrew hasn’t done much this year.” It might as well have read “Andrew is a bit dull,” or “Andrew could get out more.”
A little miffed by this dismissal of an entire twelve months of my life, I lodged a complaint with the Christmas Letter Composition Committee. She responded by suggesting that my sister and I write our own sections of the letter in future. Which we did. And every year since, I have struggled to know what to write, or how to fit it in, or how to cope with writing about myself in the third person, which is weird.
This year (well, last year), I pondered a little before writing “Andrew would like a quieter life so he could spend more time watching cricket, frankly.” At the time I was in the midst of the most frenetic run-up to Christmas I can remember. One kind of music practice followed another, followed by a choir practice. I had no time to enjoy what is one of my favourite times of year, I had no time to write Christmas cards to old friends, I had no time to visit close friends in Glasgow who had just received bad news. I got ill, inevitably. I resolved to make 2010 the year I slowed down. “No upcoming notes” is the text that appears on my mobile phone whenever I have no meetings or reminders scheduled for that day. Seeing those three words on the screen makes me happy. I’m looking forward to them appearing more regularly. And watching more cricket.
Wiseman turned 44 today. We celebrated with a milkshake at McDonalds. Or we would have done, if Wiseman hadn’t, within sight of the Golden Arches and blithely ignoring that my car was pointing entirely the wrong way, put forward a proposal involving a burger restaurant at the West End. Several LH turns and a good deal of muttering later, we arrived at Wannaburger, which could be renamed WannabeAmericanburgerjoint, although it’s probably snappier as it is. And once served by any of the staff, you’ll be left in no doubt that you’re in Europe and not the USA.
So, I ordered a milkshake, and I told Wiseman he could have anything from the menu, a dangerous offer in a licensed establishment, given that his alcohol intake alone comprises 40% of our combined restaurant bill on a regular basis. However, he opted for the root beer. And the largest burger on the menu, fries and an ice cream sundae.
Happy Birthday big man.