Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

23 December 2009

The Detestable Practice of Writing the Intensely Boring Circular Christmas Letter.

More and more it appears to have become fashionable to create a catch-all letter to accompany the obligatory annual Christmas card. Where, in past times, a short, hand-penned message might impart family news to absent friends and relations, we now receive (with some outstanding but rare exceptions) litanies of banal irrelevance such as this:-
'Dear All,

'Well another year has passed and we’re all that much older but as Jack says “As long as we’ve got our health what else matters?’

'The highlight of the year was our camping trip up north where we stayed in a rented caravan in a bay by the sea. Unfortunately Bobby cut his foot on a broken beer bottle - not badly but enough to have him limping for a couple of weeks. I can’t understand how these faraway "paradises" manage to have plastic bags, condoms, drink cans and dog poos littering the place. The caravan leaked like a holey bucket but can’t complain, the first four days were really hot and sunny.

'Jack got all ready to have his hip done in May but the op was postponed until July. Then he was told he couldn’t be done until September at which point they sent a letter to say that he’s been dropped off the waiting list and would have to go back to Dr. Khan, our GP. Jack’s fed up underneath but he puts on a brave face and only gets really grumpy when he can’t find his aluminium crutch - the kids keep hiding it.

'Other events on the wider family front: Maureen had her veins done (we went private after I won $500 on Lotto); gran had a run in with the audiologist because her hearing aid wasn’t working properly then they had the nerve to tell her that she was wearing it not only upside down but in the wrong ear! Oh, I forgot, Jack broke his wrist when his crutch went into the slots in a roadside drain at the local shopping centre. Brett (only three, bless him) put Nikki’s cellphone in the dishwasher, we tried to fix it with the hair drier but to no avail. Jack said it was a good thing as she stood a chance of getting RSI of the thumb from texting.

'They still haven’t fixed that nasty bend up the road so we’ve had four more crashes through our front fence. None of the drivers was insured so, to get repairs done, it’s cost us $500 excess on our insurance policy each time. Needless to say, none of the crashers has stumped up.

'We bought a new LCD telly and subscribed for Sky. Jack - whom we basically bought it for because he can’t get around very much - was quite chuffed with it at first but now spends a lot of his time trying to get through to Sky on their help-line to complain about the number of times they repeat everything; he says they’ll be repeating the news next. 

Mind you, TVNZ’s not much better, they seem to spend all their time showing programmes about dogs, sick people’s fights against the odds, and people going round the neighbourhood decorating other people’s houses or digging up their gardens. What I would give to all singing round the piano like they used to do in Victorian times. Or give me a good book - I read the latest Grisham in July.

'We buried somebody else’s tabby in the garden in August. Its body was all squashed on the road and it looked like our Tigger. Just after we’d buried it Tigger came through the cat door large as life so where the other one came from God knows.

'Marcia went trekking in Nepal and came back with an unidentifiable disease. Peter is still in Mt. Eden and vows to clear his name (I know for certain that he didn’t do that warehouse). Tui went on a course on medical terminology so that she could get a job as a doctor’s receptionist/typist but chucked it halfway through because some of the words made her feel sick and, in any case, as she said, who would ever truly need to be able to spell ‘spondylolisthesis’? Pauline fell in love with the boy who picks up the rubbish sacks because she says he looks like Daniel Carter, I said why couldn’t she fall for the real thing as his prospects are better. She stopped talking to me for a few days until she got herself gobsmacked by the lad who collects the empty trolleys at Pak ‘n Save - he’s got more spots than the milky way and wears his hat back to front.

'Jack and I will be on our own for Christmas Day this year as, one way or another, the kids are all doing their own things. I don’t mind really but it will be a bit quiet. Jack does love his family Christmas dinner though so I’m going to see if I can get a very small turkey - enough for just us and cold cuts on Boxing Day (the kids will all be busy again then) - and one of those shop-bought puddings. I’ve kept some five cent pieces to hide inside, I’ll wrap them in grease-proof this year as last year Jack broke his dentures on an old threepenny bit we’d found and they cost a lot to replace.

'I hope they still have the Queen’s speech on Chrissy Day - Jack says Sky will probably repeat last year’s - he’s a dag sometimes with what he comes out with.

'Anyway I hope you have a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. Any of you is welcome if you’re up this way - especially on Christmas Day.



PS We managed to buy all our Christmas grog this year on Fly Buys - good eh?'


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By Don Donovan