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Seasons greetings.

CAME home from work and found it on the hall table. The thing I had been dreading. The first Christmas card has arrived from people we lived next door to 10 years ago, who have lost touch with us to such an extent that the card says: "To Judith, Mike and family'', which is code for 'it's so long since we spoke to you, we've forgotten the names of your children'.

I crossed them off my list last year, but this is evidently their last attempt to keep in touch, for reasons that I do not understand.

From now on, the wretched cards will be coming in on a daily basis, some of them from people I literally do not remember at all. Which means I have to start mine.

Despite the fact that the whole thing is entirely pointless, I am going to have to start.

This year I am definitely going to streamline the list and I am going to do one of those computerised labels things, which means that I can print them all out on darling neat labels every year rather than go through the misery of writing them all out by hand.

Enlist youngest daughter to help me, and she is only half concentrating since she has a lot of urgent msn messaging and lolling on her bed to do.

Says it is as easy as anything. Which spells trouble of course. She gets me on to the right grid thing and so I devote the next three and a half hours typing out in maddeningly small boxes the names and addresses of all our Christmas card recipients.

Tear up tragic handwritten list of friends and family that has been my trusty Christmas card list for as long as I can remember. Feel purged.

Rush out at lunch to buy some labels from Smiths and feel skip-in-my-step excited at the prospect of having mastered such a fabulous labour-saving device.

Once I get back on to the silly computer grid, have to get more help from teenage daughter to get me back on to the printing settings.

She fiddles about with the cursor and I hand her the roll of labels but she says they're the wrong sort, they have to be on A4 sheets not on a stupid roll like the one I bought. How else do I think they are going to get through the printer ? It's not a typewriter or something out of the ark stupid. Dur.

Three days and four shops later have got the right labels, I think, have to bribe youngest daughter back on to computer and she whizzes about with the curser again and says OK, now it should work.

Presses something and it all wizzes into action. Fabulously exciting, the darling neat white printed labels are going to be worth the effort. Get on with some important multi-tasking downstairs and leave it to do its magic.

Rush back upstairs two steps at a time knowing that one big Christmas job is going to be done. Back upstairs to stick labels on envelopes that I have already put stamps on ... excited.

Get up there and they are all on the floor printed out and feel truly satisfied. Get the first one out to peel off and to my horror they have printed but each address has printed just that little bit too far down the label and so each address straddles two labels which means that to use them you have to peel two off, and then cut them in half. Which considering there are 65 of them is going to take me a good two hours more since every time you cut one in half it sticks to itself and you have to prize it open again, and then it doesn't stick down as well as it should and you have to put a bit of Pritt glue underneath one of the corners, and then you get the glue on your fingers and it takes some of the writing off the labels and you have to hand write some of the letters back in. Get the picture ?

I could have written them all out by hand by now and posted a week ago. Have to leave it for tomorrow and throw the labels in the corner of the room in a fit of childish temper.

Was banking on having at least Christmas cards ticked off the list by now.

She fiddles about with the cursor and I hand her the roll of labels but she says they're the wrong sort
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 2, 2006
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