“Faithful friends that are dear to us, gather near to us once more…” goes the cheesy Christmas song we crooned last night at the winter sing-along. I love receiving cards and letters and news and emails, and telephone calls. I love getting them all. I put cards up all over the house, sorted by colour, or theme, or some other random criterion that brings together my friends from all over the world into one wonderful, crazily crashing togetherness – people who have no connection with each other are suddenly cheek-to-cheek on a kitchen wall and that makes me smile with pleasure every time I pass them. It’s part of my Christmas delight.
I am still — on the seventh day of Christmas — writing cards. My “lateness” is not late at all. I live by the maxim that Christmas preparation can’t start until after Thanksgiving, and every day from December 24th evening until January 5th evening should be celebrated. Yes, it’s exhausting, but someone has to do it. There’s a difference between Advent (the time of preparation) and Christmas time itself.
I love writing cards by hand, feeling, just for that moment, that there is no one else in the universe but him/her and me. A special kind of community that transcends miles. This year I’ve been especially inspired by friend Justine who reminded me how important is the hand written message. It’s personal, directed just to one friend, cannot be hacked, can be written on lovely paper with thought and care and soon it becomes a special gift.
She’s right, you know. Her comments made me even more appreciative of our 35000-steps-a-day post person and friend, who manages to deliver mail even when our village is marooned with flooding, who respects our contact details and doesn’t accidentally broadcast personal data to the world electronically (it happened recently ), who naturally knows where to leave post if we’re away, and is linked to thousands of other post people, all of them real human beings, who can transport my letters from here, a local shop with five feet of counter space that acts as a post office, or
here, a brick wall on a lonely road,
and even here – a box embedded in the wall of a Victorian pub – all the way to my sister-in-law in Mississippi, or my friend in Dorrigo Australia. Now that’s pretty wonderful. Are YOU a letter writer, too?
Let’s keep the postal systems alive.
Postbox photos gratefully taken by Ru Holden. Thanks, Ru!
Mixed Vegetable Thoran
If you’re still eating your way through humdrum leftovers, here’s a bit of Vegan crunch to perk up a menu, shamelessly adapted from The Hairy Bikers’ Great Curries (a book I value more and more). My photo doesn’t do justice to the dish. It’s really a soft golden colour. The taste reminds me of happy days learning and teaching in India, but I think it’s worth a go, even if you don’t have an India connection. Spicy? Well, that depends how much dried chilli flake you put in.
Put 3 tablespoons of dessicated (dried) coconut in a small boil. Resuscitate with 2 tablespoons water, and leave to soak. Chop ½ a savoy cabbage (curly) and a handful of kale. Grate 2 peeled carrots, slice one peeled onion finely. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large frying pan. Add 1 tsp mustard seeds (black ones if you have them) ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, and 8 dried curry leaves (optional). Stir fry until the seeds begin to pop, then add the vegetables, dried chilli flakes (a pinch to ½ tsp) ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon turmeric. Stir fry until vegetables are tender, but maintain some crunch. Serve hot.
Note: I think I would have added a bit more turmeric.
Great News from October’s blog, “The Kindness of Strangers”. A reader had just returned from an exhibition of art work inspired by kindness stories recounted to the artists. More exhibitions are planned for 2020. Check out www.museumofkindness.org. And thanks to all of you who share news of the blog with others, or with me. Hooray!