Christmas (round) robins

Some people are rather sniffy about people who include bulletin letters with Christmas cards, giving details of their activities during the previous year, plus those of their children, grandchildren, children’s spouses/partners/friends and so forth. If they send them to people they see frequently, this seems rather a waste of time. But we unabashedly send them to a select few friends whom we don’t see often, friends who knew our children as they were growing up, and have always taken an interest in what they were doing.

One Christmas letter was comes without fail, and which we always reciprocate, is from a couple whom we met on holiday in 1970, whom we have not seen since, and with whom we have no contact during the year. Some people would say ‘this is a bit silly’. But it has meant that we have been able to witness, over nearly 40 years, lives developing, people growing, identities being nourished, careers being built and well-earned leisure being used creatively in retirement. I like to think that they may have been enriched in turn by what we have been able to share with them.

 To decide to stop now would be to say ‘No’ to all that, to make a statement that all that sharing of life, growth, and experience is of no account, that from a certain point on, they will cease to be part of our world.

 There’s enough negation of people’s personhood in the world at present, so I refuse to decry the practice of round robinning. It may seem ritualistic, but anything that sustains human community, fragile enough at the best of times, is worth defending.

 So, if you are reading this, Happy Christmas, and good health, peace and blessing in 2010.


9 responses to “Christmas (round) robins

  1. Thank you, and also with you 🙂

  2. I agree – and have regular annual updates with a lovely couple who lent us one of their family’s rooms in our Cretan hotel when we had to wait for a 3am flight after quitting our own rooms at 10am. Subjects range over retirement to weddings to grandchildren to – wonderfully – surviving a brain tumour: well worth hearing about!

  3. I love getting the letters myself, and can’t think what the fuss is all about! I know one couple whose letter is the stereotypical gymkhana/ultra-achieving children/stunning careers type thing, and I always look forward to their letter. Partly for the amusement – how can any one family be so perfect – but also to be genuinely happy for them.

    Happy Christmas to you too. See you at Midnight Mass 🙂

  4. As ever, it all depends….
    I like the sentiments expressed; indeed your optimism has given me fresh impetus to look more generously at such letters in future.
    However, (and there always is one in my world) you need a huge dose of Rodgers-type optimism to wade through some of the stuff people (at least our distant friends) send out with their Christmas cards – fond predictions that little Phoebe is confidently expecting a Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Africa, Rufus may well become the youngest leader next year of the London Symphony Orchestra and how excited they are that 12-year old Samantha has applied for Cambridge take a lot of generosity to accept.
    I’m afraid the ‘Bah-Humbug’ tendency still holds sway.

  5. Ah, yes, but look what happened to the ‘Bah-Humbug’ gentleman in the end!

  6. I know, I know. It’s a shame that Dickens developed such a wonderful character in Scrooge, with his intellectual analysis that is almost Vatican-esque in its cold incisive clarity only to let him fall at the last.
    The ending, with its Tiny Tims, its ‘God Bless us all’and the biggest turkey in the butcher’s window is just proof that, at heart, CD was just another old pot-boiling hack and purveyor of the worst of the soap opera tendency for spurious happy endings.

  7. ‘Vatican-esque cold incisive clarity.’ That’s certainly a cure for optimism!

    Did you see John Walsh’s take on both Sherlock Holmes and ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the Independent a few days ago?

  8. No, but they sound interesting. I’ll look them up. Anyway Eamonn, God’ blessings (and optimism?) for 2010 on you and yours.

  9. Many thanks. Haven’t forgotten the promised meeting on Loch Lomondside.

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