Finding words for the annual Christmas letter, brings thoughts of possible family news. Perhaps the first Vindolanda wooden writing tablets, relating to late Roman Christmastide, may be unearthed from anaerobic middens alongside Hadrian’s Wall ?
(re-deciphered Tablets 291, 344):
“Clausia Santavera, to his Lepidina, greetings. On the 25th December, Sister, for the day of celebration of Christmastide, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, or call, as you make the day more enjoyable for me today by your fine words of news. If you give presents, I wish for … (?). I shall expect your joyful letter too by return, sister. Such words bring great cheer. The de[e?]r, yon babes, [s?]elves do well. Farewell, sister, dearest soul, as hope I to prosper, and Hail to all this Christmastide”.
“… all the more .. such letters.. the strain – pour them down the drain (?). As befits an honest man, I implore your majesty not to allow me, an innocent man, to have to receive such drivel (?) I was unable to complain to the prefect because he was detained by ill-health, too having received Christmastide writings so very long. I have complained in vain to the beneficiarius and the rest of the centurions. Accordingly (?) I implore your mercifulness not to allow me, an innocent man, as to whose good faith you may inquire, to receive such news of family this month as if I had committed some crime. Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it infamy(?) A curse on writers such..”
If so, little changes? With best wishes for Christmas. Rural Dad