Just as there must be people who respond to all those junk phone calls, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth their while, so there are people who like the annual round robin letters that come with Christmas cards. And yes, I am one of the latter. I like getting Christmas cards – the real thing, not the electronic versions – and I like those letters that come with them. I like catching up with news from people I haven’t heard from for a year and haven’t spoken to in even longer. I also like sending cards – the real thing that is – even if it sometimes turns into a chore to get them in the post before Christmas is upon us. The acknowledgement of someone that goes with signing my name inside a card, and maybe writing a message – because, even if I enjoy getting those round robins I rarely get around to compiling my own – is a good thing. It means that at least once a year I use an old fangled pen and do my bit to keep the Post Office running and make personal contact with people all over the place who I haven’t spoken to in ages.
But not this year, I’m afraid. And no, we’re not saving the planet by going electronic and we’re not taking the superior line of a donation to charity. Although I might do that. I simply can’t face signing three names instead of four in all those cards. Not this year; it’s still so very raw. Cards are trickling in from around the country and there is a little jolt each time I open one. Some say “Iain, Christine and Christopher”; those people know but it is still a shock seeing the absence of Tim’s name. Some list all four names and that’s a shock because I realise there are still a lot of our friends who haven’t heard the news. If you read this, do me a favour and tell all those people would you? It helps us avoid some still very difficult conversations. And apologies if you normally get a card from us; I expect we’ll be back writing them next year.
Meanwhile, life goes on and Groundhog Day looms once more in January. I have more chemotherapy waiting for me. This will be my fifth time round, if you don’t count the various other bits and pieces of tablets and so on they’ve tried. This time I will be trying something completely different as I will be taking part in a trial of a viral vaccine at the Beatson in Glasgow. It will be given in conjunction with one of the chemo drugs that I would have been having at some point, so nothing lost, other than two days a week in Glasgow. Who knows, it might even work. Now that would make 2016 an instant improvement on 2015.