Tuesday, December 09, 2014

I scythed through the top of the to-do list yesterday with some success, but the relief from panic was all too temporary. I'm not making much progress with the Christmas cards, either. When I do sit down to that job, I am cherry-picking, doing the ones I really want to write instead of marching down the list. I had better also knock off the ones to the people who will be hurt or offended if they don't get one. Christmas cards weren't a source of offence in my youth – they were essentially for people you didn't like quite well enough to give a present to. Nobody expected both.

I'm pretty sure I'm not going to finish the job. I hope I'll have done the most important ones. I love you all, but I'm sinking.

Knitting went well enough. I lost my place once during the first of the scallops on the edging of the Unst Bridal Shawl – my mind wandered, as minds do, and I found I didn't know which row I was doing. I have disqualified myself for the Shetland Museum yet again, but otherwise you wouldn't know. I finished my self-allotted stint: 2 1/3 scallops.

Somewhere yesterday I saw “stint” used in that sense, a word I have been groping for, for some time. Now I can't remember where I read it.

Julie, thank you for the history. I had always thought the Japanese ambassador did know about Pearl Harbor in advance, but there's no reason why he should. I wonder if Hitler knew? Churchill went to bed a very happy man that night, as I have mentioned here before. Hitler had reason to worry. Or did they think the US would declare war on Japan and leave Europe out of it?

Churchill had clearly taken some trouble in the early years of the war to cultivate his relationship with Roosevelt. I don't think they were entirely compatible. That evening, he was dining with the American ambassador – ambassadors everywhere, that day – and was able to speak to FDR by telephone within 5 minutes or so of hearing the news (which they had from the butler who had heard it on the radio in the kitchen). I wonder if Cameron could get through to Obama as briskly today.

My husband says he doesn't remember that day, which seems odd. He was 16, therefore not yet in the army but perfectly old enough to be paying attention. And they lived in the south of England, where it was happening.

I was 8, and living in Detroit. I remember December 7, 1941 vividly.

Even so, I was surprised at the statistics they mentioned on the radio on Sunday in recalling the anniversary – how many men died, and three battleships. One of the men was (I think) my second cousin Phil Bright. Sister Helen, is that true? And, if so, how exactly do we trace the relationship?


  1. Funny, I do my cards the opposite: send off the ones that only take a brief note and hold the ones that need a long letter. The note ones are in the mail; the letter ones are still on my desk. Maybe this afternoon. I hope you don't beat up on yourself too much if you don't get yours all done, Jean.

  2. My aunt (also 8 in 1941) gave me a reprieve on Christmas cards. She believes if they arrive by January 6th (the 12th day of Christmas), it's all to the good. They are an expression of friendship in the dark time of the year, not a Christmas present that has to arrive by the 24th.

  3. Anonymous4:14 PM

    Yes, when I was overburdened in a job, it was a great relief to be told by a friend that any time in Christmas (i.e. until January 6) is fine and that she thought people quite like getting them in January when things are less hectic.
    - Beth in Ontario

  4. Anonymous8:19 PM

    In some parts of Scandinavia the cards and decorations are not taken down until the 20th day of Christmas so send any destined for there last of all.

  5. Jean, I think many historians believe Hitler made a real mess of things after Dec. 7. The pact he had with Japan required he assist if Japan was attacked, not if Japan did the attacking! He did not need to declare war on the US, which he did on Dec. 10, I think. What was he thinking? (or not?) It is always interesting to hear what people remember about historic days. In regard to the Christmas cards...I think Jan. 6th a most wonderful suggestion.

  6. Sorry, Jean (or,conversely, glad) but there is no one named Bright on the December 7th casualty lists.

    Ariana (in Aiea, HI, where I can see the Arizona Memorial from my apartment window)

  7. I've only made a start on my Christmas card writing - the panic is setting in.

  8. =Tamar11:05 PM

    I haven't sent cards in years. Every year I think maybe I will and then I don't. This is after several years when they went out extremely late; one year I managed to send them in April. They had been addressed and stamped, just not mailed.