Remember round robin letters from not so many winters ago? Neatly folded pieces of paper in slanting script font, falling out of stylish Christmas cards? The good natured among the perpetrators kept them to one page of single-sided A4, but there were also the horrors of two, three, or, oh sweet baby Jesus, four pages of annual news. Lines and lines covering DIY projects, grade 8 violin exams, three counties chess championships, and let’s not forget Tom’s promotion. I have never written one. Until now. Bucket lists come in all shapes and sizes.
I will try to make this as painless as the nature of the beast will allow me.
Highlights. We have a new pet, Charlie the hedgehog. Rowan turned fifty. Amelia took up horse-riding, and can be seen cantering every Sunday afternoon at Kingsmead Equestrian Centre. Alexia will have passed grade 1 and 2 drumming exams by the time the year is out, which makes her the most qualified musician this family ever had. If I asked the girls themselves for their top events of the year, Amelia would have said that getting a work experience place at the Victoria Palace Theatre for next summer beats everything else by a mile (sorry, Charlie) and Alexia would have named seeing Panic! At the Disco at the Reading Festival as undisputed highlight of her year, if not of her entire life so far.
Matt, our very own snowflake generation specimen, acted against type and managed to hold down a job. Me? I’ll get back to you on that.
Holidays. Ushered in the New Year at Center Parcs, Majorca at Easter, Kent camping trip in July, Crete in August. Brilliant time had by all. Matt and Ben went to China. Ben’s Facebook photos show some truly breath-taking landscapes. Matt’s photos depict free roaming chickens and sweet and sour pork.
DIY. We have had the new kitchen done. No, not really, but it sounded so good I could not resist saying it. We did have a new kitchen door fitted, and changed a few lightbulbs though.
This is actually bloody hard. So much easier to mock those self-absorbed annual letters than to write one myself. Desperately racking my brains now for other significant news from the last 12 months and it’s not looking good.
What counts as significant? Or news? When I look back on the dying year, a few stubborn images keep pushing themselves to the forefront of my memory, so I might as well go with them. Alexia’s impassioned tirade against Jacob Rees-Mogg’s views on abortion, which she dropped on us one evening at the kitchen table stands out the most. She was unstoppable, everybody else fell silent.
Another persistent image of the year is that of the whole family emerging casually from their rooms and congregating downstairs in anticipation of Rowan’s Michelin star Sunday night dinner. Our family’s best kept culinary secret has scaled such new heights this year that nothing I have been served elsewhere matches up, sorry Fat Duck! (No, I didn’t).
You can see where this is hurtling towards. A soppy ending celebrating domesticity in all its mundane everydayness. I blame old age and long winter evenings.
Being a kind person by nature, I am going to end here. 500 words, one sheet of A4.
Have a Very Merry Christmas and I hope to catch up with you all in the New Year! xxx