Do you make your own Christmas cards? Nothing nicer and I am filled with admiration for you. I remember those long-ago sticky days at the kitchen table with cartridge paper never quite cut properly to size; with tubes of glitter, blunted scissors, pots of Gloy, paints and felt; with stars, tinsel and bugle beads. So much raw material and so few usable cards to show up for it: an occupation for the days when Time conducted himself in a leisurely manner. Then, the weeks before Christmas loitered and lingered instead of rushing past as now, with Time driving his winged chariot at breakneck speed, faster than Santa’s sleigh. If I were to make my own cards now I would have to begin in June, like Joan Crawford, and I’d never ever come close to having the 100 or so I usually send out.
But every autumn I still start with sentimental ideas of spending a cosy afternoon and evening writing my admittedly store-boughten cards in a snug & glowing cosy kitchen with the wireless on and the kettle singing. I’m fine for a couple of hours but then l mislay my master list; mismatch the envelopes; become nauseated by licking the gum and develop writer’s cramp. My method begins to unravel and instead of accomplishing the project in a single sitting, it stretches out over days and weeks, still ending in a scrabble for the last post.
I also try to match the subject of the card to the recipient: so I buy Madonnas and snow-bound birds; landscapes and formal holly sprays; skating pugs, polar bears and frosted ice flowers. Sometimes a touch of secular humour: my own favourite last year was a charity archive “snap” of a jolly old couple pulling a cracker over enormous helpings of Christmas pudding. But it has occurred to me of late that there is an additional pleasure in scenting my outgoing mail. You might try it. An unusual way of personalising your greetings and dead easy,too. There’s something awfully romantic about sending a delicious smell – the smell of oneself – through the post; sealed up in an envelope to be released by the recipient hundreds – even thousands – of miles away.
Here’s what I do. I take my favourite fragrance (or more than one – this is an occasion on which you can happily mix ad lib)- and spray a little onto a paper tissue. Then I just lay this in the box in which I keep my stationery, put the lid on and leave for a couple of days. If you’d like to have a go at this and think you may prefer the scent stronger, then spray several tissues and, when dry, intersperse them between the sheets and cards. Don’t be tempted to spray direct onto cards or envelopes as this may stain or cause ink to blot or run. Never discard a tissue; simply add more for a rich accumulation of perfume. Orientals, chypres and dark fougeres seem to work best but, as I say, experiment. I’m sure one writes one messages more creatively with all this redolence stimulating the brain.
Merry Christmas to all our dear readers! Please accept this as an electronic card of sorts from Lemon Wedge – unscented but, like Mary Poppins’s magical medicine bottle, may each of you smell his own favourite fragrance therein!