… the time has come around again for me to send you the annual gift which you have all, doubtless, been keenly awaiting.   Previous offerings have concentrated of late on marks of punctuation: ideal, in that they are easy to send and deliver, useful and interesting to receive and, above all, to the point.

This year’s gift will, in this regard, prove no exception.  However, this year I can promise that the specified item has been scrupulously washed down in alcohol, which itself has been carefully checked by me for taste and efficacy both before and after use.  To guarantee freshness and lack of contamination in transit, I have wrapped the item in gift brackets.  Please recycle these wrappings in the appropriate manner.

This year, my friends, I offer you the undeservedly humble Apostrophe [ ‘ ].  Not, please note, a second-hand version already abused by butchers or butchered by greengrocers.  No, this is a brand-new apostrophe, freshly picked from the source.  Nor is it a cheap diacritical version, but the top-of-the-range item, grammatical to its core.  The very one which takes its place proudly standing in sentences up and down the land.

(I shall make no mention at all here of scurrilous usage of the sign in the so-called emoji.  Any system which regards an object simply for its shape rather than its meaning is, in my view, not only ethically suspect but also logically unsound.)

As ever, please feel free to use your gift in any way legitimate to its purposes.  It is common knowledge that three basic types of opportunity will benefit from such practice; this year’s present doesn’t need as much explanation as the different types of .’s gifted in previous years.

Rest assured that the offering comes with my love and with very best wishes for the festive weeks and ensuing months of the year to come.  A contribution to a charity has again replaced the sending of cards this year, and this greeting note will be added to the ever-lengthening list available on my website (see in the blog).  This link will take you to where some previous gifts are still available – such is the generosity of the universe.