Postbox.jpg2017’s Christmas letter didn’t quite pan out as planned. The planned letter was supposed to be the usual mix of personal news, tasteful photos and amusing observations for the benefit of the few people who I don’t see regularly or interact with on social media.

Sadly, one of my cousins died just before Christmas, which meant that a light-hearted look at last year’s news was shelved and Christmas Eve morning was spent, instead, on a very different kind of letter. This is one of those rare occasions where only a letter will do. It’s perhaps a sign of the times that it was drafted on a laptop before being carefully copied by hand onto proper writing paper, put into an envelope with a card, sealed, stamped and walked to the post box where it would wait three days before being collected.

I don’t know whether they brought solace or comfort – these brief glimpses of a life that I valued, but barely knew. A few childhood and teenage memories from annual visits that probably added up to a total of no more than a few hours. A couple of visits and the occasional phone call in later years. A recognition of the devastation caused by the early loss of a much loved wife, mother and grandmother. The point is to say something rather than nothing – however hesitating; however clumsy; however inadequate.