Christmas cards," the Senior Cat informed me.
"No father dearest I do not expect you to do that," I told him.
He has reached the stage where he hates writing anything, even signing his name is a chore. He grips the pen he is using as if it is going to run away from him. My sister has tried to show him how to relax and, if not enjoy, at least feel comfortable about the physical act of writing. Nothing changes him. He has always been a tense writer.
I can remember watching him write things on the blackboard when he taught me at school. (I am old enough to remember real blackboards and real chalk.) His fingers would grip the chalk so tightly that his fingers would be white with the effort. So, no the Senior Cat does not write Christmas cards.
He never did. My mother did. She kept the "Christmas card list" in a book with a red and black cover.. In it she noted whether she had sent a card, whether a reply had been received and in what year. The list grew and then faded over the years as she lost touch with people. Names would be crossed off due to death or, less often, because people had moved on. Sometimes names would be added or would be there for just one year but many of them were there for decades.
Whatever happened my mother was organised about this. She would write lengthy letters to some, shorter notes to others. My godmother always rated at least six pages, many others three or four. My mother's hand flowed apparently effortlessly across the page. We left the card writing to her apart from a few friends of our own until we grew up and left home.
"The List" has now decreased. Many of the people my mother corresponded with were women of her generation. Card writing was seen as their task. Very few of the men wrote cards, some did not even sign the cards. All was left to their wives.
After my mother died my father said he felt he should reply if people sent cards but he was not going to initiate the process.
That seemed fair enough. I did not know all the people on "the List" and neither did he so it grew much shorter. Since then it has grown shorter still. It is an inevitable part of old age.
I write cards for friends overseas - at least for the friends who celebrate Christmas. After all, I do not see them from one year to the next. Even if we have been in touch during the year it is nice to send them something which says, "I am thinking of you."
Some of my friends are Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu so I do not send Christmas cards. We stay in touch anyway.
Local friends increasingly say "don't send a card" and we don't. It makes me wonder whether people will eventually stop sending cards at all. I am not sure how I feel about this. Will it still be Christmas without any cards?