You MAY have gotten an actual, physical, printed card from me.  If you did, please forgive its flaws.  Most of them have some.  More of you would have gotten them, if the process had gone better.  By the time it was over, I had laughed, cried, sworn (a lot), given up, and vowed never, ever to do this again. 

I hadn’t sent physical cards out for at least five years, maybe longer.  It is so much easier and faster to do the job electronically.  And, in my case, so much more professional. I could have just made the thing and sent it to VistaPrint, or whoever does that kind of thing in Canada.  If American Greetings had hooked up with a printing service and tempted me, while I was making the card at their site, I probably would have.

Mais, non.  Amazon had nice looking double sided glossy card stock, and envelopes by the hundreds.  I ordered a couple of hundred.  Then I went to work “creating” the card.  I never should have used American Greetings, either, because there’s no way to save your work-in-process.  I left the last grammatical error in and never did translate it into French, because I got tired of redoing the whole thing, every time I thought of an improvement.  Next time: Microsoft Publisher.  And that was the easy part.

It was the printing operation that nearly sent me screaming off to the funny farm.  It started off innocently enough.  I had been using OEM inkjet cartridges, and my printing had gone a little iffy, so I put fifteen minutes unto all the aligning and cleaning steps at my disposal.  Then I printed a couple of cards on plain paper.  They looked okey and the double-sided printing attachment at the back of my pretty expensive, 3-year-old HP printer, worked just fine.  I was sufficiently emboldened to load up the glossy card stock.  It went pretty well for the first forty or fifty cards. Some printed better than others.  Some of the printing is dark and some is streaky.  I had to let it go.  I didn’t buy enough paper to get that picky.  I ran the cleaning/aligning stuff periodically.  When that stopped working, I just ditched all three of the color cartridges and replaced them with HP originals.  The printer said it was happier and it worked better, at least on the ink front. 

But the sheet feeding mechanism was starting to balk.  And the double-sided printing attachment started jamming.  I cleaned it as best I could, but it didn’t help much.  First every third or fourth card needed attention.  Then it went down to every single card and they would have to be printed one side at a time.  It’s not intuitively obvious how to feed the second side in.  Some of you will notice that when you open your card, you have to turn it right side up to read it.  Sorry about that.  After a good few balls-ups, I put these little post-its beside the feeder tray. 

Then it went from bad to worse.  The regular sheet feeding mechanism decided it had had enough of this card stock stuff and wouldn’t take it off the stack.  I had to put each piece into the feeder by itself.  After another ten cards or so, it wanted me to set them in there just so.  It wouldn’t pick them off the floor of the tray anymore.  It’s tough when the mechanical staff starts getting uppity.  Can you imagine the color of the air in my office?  The printer was deaf.  It didn’t care if I was sad, mad or going hysterical.  I thought of taking them to a nearby copy center, but by this time, I had gone stubborn, too.  I labored on. 

When it was kicking back every piece of card stock, I added a back stop.  Believe it or not, this arrangement worked for the last thirty or forty cards.  Note: paper already fed because it won’t pick it out of the tray.  The little piggie USB drive prevents the card stock from being pushed back into the tray.  At one point, every piece, that went half way in, stuck there and had to be cleaned off until I found the source of the dirt and eliminated it. 

Then I broke the tab that stops the paper from falling on the floor.  That’s easy to do when you are hand feeding every page.  If you forget and leave it up, but not extended, the card stock tries to feed back into the printer.  The mad grab to stop that isn’t pretty.  Some of you got cards with evidence of that action on them.  In the process, I broke the mechanism, so it doesn’t fold down anymore and is harder to deal with.

The more tired and frustrated I got, the dumber I got.  I am not exactly proud of this operation.

So…You don’t all have cards at all and it’s too bad I’m not famous.  A good few of you would have collector’s items.  Next year the process is going electronic again! 

And, for all of you, with our love, here is Robbie’s and my Holiday Greeting:

And I made the card before Omicron hit. May it be off as quickly as it came. I can think of no better wish.