It has been an odd week. Not yet Christmas but near enough for panic. Cold enough for the North Pole but not very picturesque; not quite flu but a bit sniffly.

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Coming home from work, cold, very cold, I huddled up to the radiator.

“Are you ok, Lynne?”

“Just cold.”

He brings me a cup of strong, steaming tea and I sip it gratefully.

“There, you look warmer now,” he says, pleased.

“Do I?”

“Yes, your nose is red.”

“Oh.”

Dear Father Christmas,

It appears I have a red, shiny nose. Should Rudolph be indisposed, I am available on Christmas Eve if it gets foggy.

Yours sincerely

PS I have no particular wish to join in any reindeer games.

Do people still write letters to Father Christmas; proper handwritten correspondence?

Have the sled-loads of mail that traditionally trekked north to his arctic home reduced to a trickle? Does he now just get one or two letters along with a note from an estate agent asking if he’s thinking of selling his house, a flyer for a great pizza delivery deal and a plastic sack for his old clothes?

Does he have to filter his mail into one pile from excited children; one from credit card companies offering nought per cent interest on transfers and one from charities who send you a pen and a standing order form.

One (especially Mr Gove, I suspect) would hope the children’s missives are all correctly penned thus: (addressee details left; sender’s address and date right).

Dear Father Christmas

Thank you so much for the presents you left me last year. This year I would like a Barbie and a socket set, please.

Yours sincerely,

Or is it all e-mail and text now? There are, inevitably, a number of websites via which you can get in touch with Santa. Moreover, the old guy is also on Twitter. On November 27 he posted:

The tree is now in the hall. It is decked with lights and Mrs C is merrily singing as she decorates it. I’m feeling very jolly! Ho! Ho! Ho!

It made me feel tired just reading it.

I am not a graduate of the Ebenezer Scrooge School of humbugging but I hope to hold off the serious ho-hos until the week before Christmas. You don’t want to peak too soon.

At time of writing, Father Christmas had more than 15,000 followers which is creditable but not quite up to American pop sensation Justin Bieber’s 31million.

Perhaps if the beard went...

What is it, I wonder, that Jbeebie tweets that enthuses nearly thrice as many people who live in Belgium? Well I had a look and at 5am BST, the heartthrob singer tweeted: “Being creative”, which contribution to human enlightenment prompted more than 20,000 retweets. Is it just me or are more people than live in Venezuela hanging on the every word of someone who doesn’t say very much? I suppose we should be grateful it wasn’t in text speak. B cre8iv

As far as writing to Santa is concerned, my own children (31 and 29... they are not numbered, that is their ages) now tend to cut out the middleman by e-mailing their doting parents web links to the items on their Christmas list.

Meanwhile, three-month-old grandson baby Bud is too small to have a list. If he did, it would probably read: “Milk, burp, nappy change.”

In fact, the toothless one visited us for the first time and stayed overnight at the weekend. Not by himself, naturally. His parents drove him over from Saffron Walden.

He is, I’m told, now in the top two per cent for height in his age group. It is probably too soon to put his name down for a basketball scholarship at an American Ivy League university but we haven’t ruled it out. Maybe we should wait until he’s five by which time he will have read The Complete Works of Shakespeare and have a basic grasp of quantum physics. Currently, he just smiles a lot (or maybe it’s wind) and gurgles.

Christmas changes after the kids leave home. We no longer have that surge of excitement in anticipation of them waking up and seeing their pile of presents. But we still feel the love, taking it in turns to open a window of our (non-chocolate) advent calendar and holding on to the timeless notion that it is better to give than to receive... especially in the case of my home-made mince pies.

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