You may or may not receive a Christmas card from me, with this image on it. (I took the photograph in the austere 12th Century nave of Lescar Cathedral just before setting out on my Voie du Puy walk in April. Whether the carving itself is 12th Century, I rather doubt, but I find it quite a charming depiction of Matthew 2,14 even though none of the Holy Family is apparently riding on the donkey.)
The point is, I didn't have enough printed in order for all those on our rambling Christmas card list to receive one. Which brings me to the question, yet again, of whether we need to send so many people cards. Somehow, we're beset by a conspiracy to keep it going: every year, the additions to the list seem to exceed the (usually sad) deletions. Occasionally, you meet up with someone you haven't seen for decades, but have exchanged cards with: when you realise how little you now have in common, each reaches for the red pen.
What's to stop a greater ruthlessness? Well, I suppose it's something to do with the Christmas spirit. And we enjoy receiving cards ourselves, even from those who live next door. Possibly we all wish to avoid the King John outcome, the cards upon his shelf... were... only from himself.
Crazy isn't it! Especially in the days of instant messaging - and blogging. Particularly as I somehow feel it's not the same if I haven't written the addresses out by hand. I used not to, so this is a further indication that I am moving backwards into the Dark Ages. Seems too to give a lie to what I mentioned Ben Brangwyn said the other day, "Complex systems never return to a prior state."
Having written this, I see it's all really said much more amusingly by Jon Canter in today's Guardian. (And "Martin" is the hero of the story.)