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Photo Article: Reflections on Christmas cards at the Welsh Hovel

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 21 December 2020

Before I start, I must confess that I stand guilty of gross hypocrisy. My preference, as long-term readers know, is for Christmas cards to be somehow related to why we are all having a holiday on December 25 even if we are not celebrating Christmas. That is to say the birth of Jesus.  But this year the card I sent out was of a snowman. My excuse was that it was designed by Joshua at his nursery. Last year, I failed almost as badly with the card being of a tree. It too was designed by Joshua but at his playgroup in Wales so the message was very much Nadolig Llawen. Okay, so I am a hypocrite. Next up: a confession of very minor sexism.

If I was sending a letter to this household, I would address it to T Winnifrith and R xxx (the Mrs having kept her family name). That is because I am, as you know, a terribly progressive sort of chap. However, as you can see below, a number of cards arrive here addressed to Mr and Mrs Tom Winnifrith. This gives me a rather guilty pleasure as I always hand such envelopes to the Mrs to open, knowing that she views them dimly and might even let out a little groan of displeasure. So if anyone is sending a card to the Hovel then you know how to address it in order to give me that little seasonal treat.

The cards have been hung on the wall of the living room by myself. Domestic duties are, after all, my middle name.  There is a bit of a cheat in that a few of the cards are to congratulate us on the birth of Jayarani just over a month ago. But one babe in swaddling clothes is much like another, right? And the house needs some decoration. As Joshua, rather pointedly, observes as we travel to and from nursery, every other house in this village, and also in the village on the other side of the river where the English infidels reside, has lights up and is decorated.

I am not a great one for lights. Moreover, the tree we bought a year ago has endured a year of Welsh rain and, indeed, has grown a bit. Natural trees for use every year eh? Not only am I damn progressive but I am a bit of a greenie too! The poor tree does not greatly enjoy life in a warm hovel so will only be coming inside, for a 16 day stint, later today. Tonight we can then get out the boxes of decorations and Joshua, the Mrs and myself will decorate the tree and then put up tinsel and home grown holly elsewhere.

I am glad to say that a good number of cards do actually have some relevance to Jesus. But I highlight two of those that don’t. The first talks of “season” and “excess” and the second has a picture of a creature that kills chickens, geese and ducks for fun. It can only have been sent by a city dweller. Romanticising a killer or erasing Jesus from what we are celebrating: I am not sure which is worse.

I should say that the messages inside both cards are loving and generous so perhaps, for this one week, I should not be too grumpy. Bah humbug.


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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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