WRITTEN BY MARIE PENMAN
What a lovely surprise… but what a puzzle, working out which thorny relationship it aimed to smooth over!
Although Jan could see the appeal of social media, she was in no doubt that it was to blame for the drop in the number of Christmas cards.
People nowadays simply posted their festive messages online, which was why she was surprised when she heard a heavy clunk from the front door as she sat drinking her morning coffee.
It was still only the second week in December, yet this morning’s post had sounded as though a dozen cards had arrived! Intrigued, she put down her mug and headed to her front hallway.
However, rather than a pile of cards, she found a long slim box with the logo Letterbox Flowers stamped on the front.
Flowers, posted through the door – what excitement! Jan took the box and hurried back to the kitchen where she used a knife to slice open the package.
Inside was a prettily arranged Christmas bouquet – flat-packed but with the promise of beauty to come. There were small white and red blooms, some holly and ivy and a scattering of berries, all tied up with a sparkly gold ribbon. It was charming! But who was it from?
There was a small gift card with a message printed on it:
Sorry about last year. Let’s make more of an effort this Christmas. Love, M x
M? Who was M?
The reference to last year immediately made her think of Mike, her ex-husband. They’d been divorced for a couple of years but had still not fully resolved how to handle Christmas with the children. Not that they were children now, of course, with both of them in their late teens.
Last year, Mike had asked if he could take them skiing for a week over Christmas. Jan had point blank refused. They were her children and she was entitled to see them on Christmas Day!
As a result, Mike had gone on his ski trip alone, the kids had moped about at home, complaining about being bored, and Jan had come out of it looking like the villain of the piece. Not her finest hour.
But would Mike send her flowers? He’d hardly ever done it when they were married so surely wouldn’t start now.
So who else could the bouquet be from? Her sister, Maggie? Again, last Christmas hadn’t been a great success in the family. Maggie had suggested Jan take their mum for Christmas but as her mum liked to get home to her own bed, it meant Jan would have to stay sober all day to take her home. And what was Christmas Day without a glass or two of bubbly?
So Jan had dug her heels in and told Maggie it was her turn for Mum, and the sisters had exchanged a few passive aggressive text messages before Maggie had caved in and agreed to take Mum.
If the flowers were from her, Jan was impressed. It meant her sister was laying the foundations for this year, sneakily reminding Jan that it was her turn for Mum, and also looking like the bigger person by not holding a grudge…
Actually, the flowers might also be from Jan’s mum. Whenever she sent cards to the family, she signed them From M, G & A, meaning Mum, Gran and Anne, her name, so that it addressed everyone in the house. She’d dropped the ‘A’ part from Jan’s cards once Mike left.
Jan and her mum hadn’t been getting on, partly due to her mum’s continuing disapproval over the divorce (she’d loved having Mike as a son-in-law), but also because she felt Jan was making a fool of herself by going on dates via a dating app.
Surely her mum didn’t expect her to stay single for the rest of her life? She was only fifty-two, for goodness sake!
Jan looked at the flowers again, still puzzled by who might have sent them.
It would seem odd – and perhaps boastful – if she asked any of the Ms in her life outright, as though she were showing off about being sent a bouquet.
Maybe best just to text them all, with a message of goodwill, and hope that one of them would respond by asking if she’d got the flowers.
So Jan sent the same message to Mike, to Maggie and to Mum:
Sorry I wasn’t as nice as I could have been last Christmas. Here’s to a better festive season this year! x
All three responded within minutes, with sweet comments, love and kisses – but no acknowledgement of the flowers!
Just then, Jan’s doorbell rang. She opened the door to see her postman.
“Really sorry to bother you, but I think I posted the wrong parcel through your door half an hour ago,” he said. “It was a flat box, but it was meant for number 42, not 24. My bag’s so full this morning.”
Jan blushed as red as the berries in the bouquet as she realised she’d have to wrap the flowers up again.
Still, at least she’d improved her festive relationships this year!