Happy thoughts #3

I can’t believe that it’s Friday again (or very early on Saturday): this last week has flown by! And this week it would be difficult to say that my happy thought is anything other than Christmas.

But what of Christmas? What made it special?

  • fun times with friends on Christmas Eve,
  • a great Christmas day,
  • the amount of thought which had gone into the gifts I received from friends, and
  • (of course) the excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

Maybe I’m cheating slightly on the premise of just having one happy thought for the week, but it’s Christmas.

(For an explanation about happy thoughts have a read of Happy Thoughts #1 or click on the tag below.)

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Good King Wenceslas looked out …

One of the only Christmas Carols which I know refers to Boxing Day, or December 26th: St Stephen’s day.

Today I started wondering about St Stephen, and quite what he represents.  Without going into the full detail, it seems that he’s the patron saint of stonemasons and was an early deacon.  A surprise, then, that everyone associates him with the wrong day (25 Dec) and something to do with presents.

So, why Boxing Day?  We know that the Royal family unwrap their gifts on Boxing Day rather than Christmas day, but that is attributed to their German heritage. Several other theories compete for the derivation, but I like to think that it’s because by 26 December the children are fed up with their gifts and are playing with the boxes.

But when was the last time that the snow did lay “deep and crisp and even” on Boxing Day? About every five or six years there’s some snow, according to the Met. office, and the last time that there was anything significant was 2004 (although here in the South it wasn’t much to report).

It’s more likely to snow in the UK in January or February, so perhaps the more likely explanation for a white Christmas comes from the change in calendar in 1752 when Wednesday 2 September was followed by Thursday 14th (a 12 day jump), so what is now 26 December used to be the end of the first week in January. (This also explains the UK tax year ends on 5 April – 12 days after the end of the first quarter (Lady Day) which used to be the end of the financial year.)

I’m off to open some presents and enjoy wassailing. Happy Christmas.

Happy thoughts #2

It has been a bit of a strange week: the classic run-up to Christmas with the typical organisational behaviours, for example people using up their leave at the end of the year – or otherwise absent.

And after a rather protracted week, culminating in Christmas eve eve, it’s now time for ten days away from work. Ten days full of chocolate, food, alcohol, and no doubt the odd present or two.

So to this week’s happy thought: last Saturday was meant to be the busiest shopping day before Christmas – and yet the news announced the same thing for today.  Despite the prospect of being trampled to death by marauding shoppers, we had a weekend in London for retail therapy (Westfield), restaurant therapy (Lebanese – and rather nice), and alcohol therapy (enough said). It was very pleasant, and a worthy happy thought.

(For an explanation about happy thoughts have a read of Happy Thoughts #1.)

Bah humbug and all that

Christmas Tree, Rockerfeller Centre

Christmas Tree, Rockerfeller Centre

I don’t send Christmas cards to the people I work with, even though they may be the people outside of my family that I see most.  I do send Christmas cards to a bunch of people I haven’t seen in more years than I care to remember – and a tiny few to some people I’m unlikely to see even if I remember to care (and fortunately they’re very unlikely to see this blog).  And some people will get online messages: facebook or email.

I can’t even say that I treat any particular social grouping equally: some friends will get cards or messages, and others not – but that doesn’t diminish our friendship.  And there are always “family friends” or distant relatives whose feelings may be hurt if they don’t receive a card with a semi-legible squiggle at the bottom (my handwriting hasn’t improved recently!).

So what exactly is the etiquette of the Christmas card?  Is it time for some guidelines –

  • if you’re just a work colleague then you won’t get a card
  • if I haven’t seen you, spoken to you, emailed you, or even messaged you on facebook in more than five years then you’ll not get a card (even if you got one last year)
  • if most of our interaction is online, then Christmas greetings are equally likely to be online
  • if we just play sports together then you’re unlikely to get a card
  • if we’re directly related then you’ll get a card
  • if we’re distantly related then you might get a card – it rather depends if we’ve been in touch in the last five years
  • if we’re friends (we hang out, go for a drink, visit each other’s house etc) then you’re very likely to get a card

I’d be happy to receive cards and greetings on this basis.  But am I being too simplistic and too logical? Are there finer gradations than this that will even go into the size, quality, and nature of the card sent?

What truly is the etiquette of sending Christmas cards?