Since I am fast enough to grumble when the postman makes a mistake I feel praise should be given where it is due. This morning as we were sitting in the study drinking coffee the doorbell rang with multiple peals (this doorbell is a recent acquisition, to save delivery drivers having to open the back door (which is at the front) and shout Hello while trying not to look like a burglar. I don't know what it is about doorbells that they always break down, but we currently have one. I fancied a huge and thunderous brass door knocker, but the doorbell was easier and cheaper. I expect the Systems Administrator got it on Amazon).
It was the postman, who had noticed that the names and addresses on some of the mail looked anomalous, and instead of stuffing it at random through somebody's door had taken the time to ask. First up was an envelope with the name of our neighbour on it, who sold us this house in 1993 and now lives in the original family farmhouse down the lane. We have received spasmodic mail for him ever since, and at Christmas I take it round unless it is addressed to his dead wife as well, in which case I feel he doesn't need to have it. I stopped the year she died since friends and relatives who were in touch must have known of her death, and I was afraid that cards addressed to them both would simply upset him, while anyone who didn't know after nearly twenty years that he had moved house couldn't be a close friend. As that was about five years ago perhaps I should start again, in case it is a long lost friend trying to get back in touch. I thought it was very sensible of the postman to try and clear this one up, since he must know from all our other mail that our neighbour lives down the road and we live here. And he can take the responsibility for the deceased wife's mail in future.
Second up was a fat, disintegrating envelope addressed in writing I recognised as my father's cousin's. To clinch matters it had a little sticker with his name and address on the back. The reason why the postman was confused was that the names on the envelope were not ostensibly anything to do with us. In fact they were my brother and his wife, but as I was traditionalist enough to adopt my husband's name on marriage there was no obvious way for the postman to guess. The Systems Administrator explained about that as well and we promised to give the envelope to my brother the next time we saw him. I am afraid that my father's cousin has got his address book muddled up. I really ought to go and visit him next year, though the thought of getting myself to Lytham St Annes fills me with despondency, and if we both go then we have to find somebody to look after the zoo and it becomes a major expedition.
Meanwhile I finished my Christmas shopping, and after lunch I delivered the Christmas cards to our neighbours and put the last tricky one in the post. We are not trying to do anything very elaborate for Christmas, lunch for my parents next week and a roast chicken with all the trimmings for us on Christmas Day. It might even be all under control.