“It’s just as well Dad’s a school teacher,” observes my daughter, Imogen, “because if he wasn’t, our Christmas card display would be very small.”
Yes, Andy has a nice stack of Christmas cards that he brought home from school. But the rest of us have only three cards between us.
“I suppose we got crossed off everyone’s Christmas card list,” I say. I didn’t send cards to anyone last year. I haven’t sent any this year either. I don’t suppose we can complain about our lack of mail.
“I know how we can get lots of cards.” Everyone raises their eyebrows and waits for me to elaborate. “How many of us live here? Seven? Well, if we each buy a card for everyone else… 7 x 6… we’d have 42 cards. They’d make a great display.”
Then I remember my eldest daughter and my second son and my daughter-in-law. “If we include Felicity, Callum, and Casey, there are ten of us. We’d have 10 x 9 or 90 cards.”
But what about Thomas, our son who died some years ago? “We always include Thomas in our Christmas,” I say. “I’m sure he’d like to give cards to everyone else. That’s eleven people and so we’d have 11 x 10 or 110 Christmas cards.”
Can cats and dogs give cards? “What if Poppy, Jenny, Sammy and Nora gave everyone cards too? They’d be fifteen of us. What’s 15 x 14?” A quick calculation reveals the answer: 210
Wow! Imagine if we had 210 Christmas cards! Where would we put them all?
Of course, we’re only having a bit of fun. It’s very unlikely that each person in our family is going to sit down and write greetings in 14 cards before we all do a huge card exchange. Quite apart from the fact the pets can’t write, and someone will have to stand in for Thomas, cards aren’t necessary. We’d much rather say the words out loud: “Happy Christmas!” and accompany them with a hug.
But what if eleven people gave a gift to every other family member? That would be 11 x 10 or 110 gifts sitting under the tree waiting to be opened on Christmas Day. Imagine!
“Some families do a Secret Santa thing,” I say. “They choose a name from a hat and only give a present to that person.” If eleven of us only bought one gift each, they’d only be 11 x 1 or 11 gifts under the tree.
“Oh no, we couldn’t do that,” says the girls. “We like giving presents.” Everyone wants to arrange a special gift for every person in the family.
Eleven gifts under our tree? No, there’s going to be a sea of them! Of course, they won’t be expensive gifts. Some of them will be handmade. And some might even be secondhand treasures.
So I’m wondering..
Does everyone in your family buy or make or find a gift for everyone else? Or do you organise a Secret Santa? And have a lot of cards arrived in your mail?
PS Even though Thomas is no longer here with us, he does give everyone a Christmas gift. I do his shopping for him!