Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Going Postal

The families of The Garfather and myself have something of a Christmas tradition. It is one of delivering a Christmas Card as close to Christmas as possible, with whoever holds out longest being the de facto winner.

This custom harks back to the day when a card being exchanged between the respective families wasn't a given, and the decision to send a card might be made on a whimsy, and this would always happen with good time before Christmas, thus giving the latter family plenty of time to reciprocate.

All good and well. Now, one year The Garfather and his mother went away on holiday, leaving The Garfather's dad to fend for himself over the festive period. No card had been received, and as the majority of the family were away we didn't think to send one. Then, on Christmas Eve at about nine o'clock in the evening, we heard a sound from the direction of the letterbox. A card had been slipt through from The Garfathers with mere hours until the first day of Christmas. Goodwill and peace were swiftly abandoned as a reply was transcribed, and I was dispatched into the cold of the night to deliver it.

The next year, we responded in kind, and prompted a similar panic in the respective household. In the years afterwards, similar tit for tat card delivering occured, until the ritual has become so well established that no-one is ever caught out, but it is just a matter of who can hold out as close to midnight as possible (or, indeed, Christmas morning: there was a time when I would take the card to the pub with me, to guarantee an early hours delivery).

This year, The Garfather and I happened to be on messenger during the afternoon of Christmas Eve. In my house, the card had long since been written, but was just waiting for night fall before dispatch could be considered. As we chatted, I sensed a movement outside the house so crept to the window. I returned to the computer.

"Odd," I typed, not actually mystified. "I've just seen a small American woman scuttling up my driveway, and now there is a card of some description on my doormat."
"A daylight delivery?!" The Garfather exclaimed. "That is most aberrant."
"You guys just lost your nerve this time, I suppose. The beauty of this duel is that there's always next year."

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