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The thing is, I love the clippings The Mom sends. I really do. I love seeing her handwriting on the envelope – still all caps the way it was when we were little and couldn’t read her flowery, joined up penmanship.

And I know that whatever is in the envelope will be hilarious, and if I stand even a tiny chance of missing any potential comedy, The Mom will make a note. Something like, FUNNY! HA HA! and circle the appropriate bit, so as to ensure that I follow her meaning. When I show the clippings to my friends, the ones with the editorial comments from The Mom (always in ALL CAPS) are the hands-down favourites.

I’m not the only one who gets clippings – an American friend over here also gets a similar service from her father, though he also sends digital clippings – emails with links in them. I remember when her folks were coming to visit, she had to hide herself away for a day and catch up on her reading. We realise this is not an entirely free service. If no comment or mention is made of them, parents will not be best pleased.

The range of topics that The Mom deems worthy of posting over cover a diverse range of topics, not limited to, but including: Trudeau, Trump, medical marijuana, cute dog pictures, cute animal pictures in general, Pet of the Week (a classic column from the local paper which has the added bonus of being printed on the back of the increasingly strange want-ads), and sometimes local job adverts (even though she insists it’s okay that I live here in the UK).  I can also usually count on receiving several of Margaret Wente’s columns from The Globe and Mail and must confess that I rarely give those more than a cursory glance – I just don’t care for the columnist, which I’ve told The Mom but she doesn’t appear to care.

The clippings are, at times, I believe, meant for my personal edification. If I haven’t been able to respond with enough insight into a particular topic – generally American politics – there will be a barrage of articles so that I can study up and be a more useful conversationalist when next we Skype.

The Mom has been sending these clippings since I moved to the UK. And they have always been a steady and constant reminder of home, that I am missed and loved, and that she thinks of me all the time. Recently, I’ve started tearing off the stamps of each packet, and I wish I’d started doing that sooner. That’s nearly 12 years of stamps I’ve not collected (though, as The Mom’s thrown away my stamp collection, I suppose it doesn’t matter quite as much). I also wish I’d saved all the envelopes. What an art project that would’ve been: a massive great big wall plastered with envelopes at all my various UK addresses. It would’ve been quite the sight to behold.

The clippings service doesn’t end when I turn up at home for the holidays either. Though, it does appear in a slightly different format. One receives clippings at one’s place at the kitchen table, and though L’il Sis and Crazy D no longer live there, they get clippings set out for them too. Waiting for their next visit, along with the other mail they’ve had.

And that’s the thing. Why I don’t always open and read the clippings in a timely fashion. My brother, sister, and I have, for some time now, been reticent to open our mail. Because it’s usually a bill or an invoice or something else that will require time, attention, and patience to deal with. And we’re running rather short of most of those things almost all the time. And between my full time job, my first novel coming out and the publicity necessary to get it properly out there in the world, and the fact that I’m trying to write a second one, and my brain only functions for a certain amount of time each day… well, sadly the clippings don’t always get priority.

So it’s true. Recently I had a five-day long weekend. And I promised myself that I would rest. That I wouldn’t do any more work than the bare minimum, and that I would read the clippings. I made it about halfway through my impressive pile and it was several hours of utter delight. I promised myself, as I was reading them, that I wouldn’t let the build-up get this big again… But another packet came through the letter slot the same day as my book launch, and then I got the proofs from my North American publisher and I fear I may be looking at another backlog… But no matter. I enjoy them whenever I read them.