‘Twas the Night after Christmas

One of my long-time holiday traditions is sending out Christmas cards. I print a small photograph, affix it to a deckled blank cardstock, then address, seal, and stamp the envelope. Multiply that process by about a hundred, and you can see that this occupies a significant place on my list of holiday traditions. I try to make the process as efficient as possible by using a spreadsheet and printed stickers for addresses, but I have maintained the handcrafted nature of my cards by personally printing, signing, and assembling each one. That is important to me since each card is a personal gift from me to the recipient.

Before delving further into this story, I have to say that using my printer always makes me nervous. Don’t get me wrong, printing can be a very rewarding experience, but it can also be a pain in the you know what. Trust me, I have invented new forms of swearing when I’m deep in the throes of printing problems, but when it all comes together and I hold the printed output of my photographic efforts in my hands, it gives me great joy. Bottom line: printing is worth the headaches I go through, but the headaches can be significant. In the many years that I’ve made my own prints, I’ve encountered just about every problem you can imagine: clogged heads, crunched paper, software updates, ink where it is NOT supposed to be, blank spots where ink IS supposed to be, and more software updates. Yep, I have seen it all when it comes to printing!

So, when I sat down to make the prints for my cards about a week ago, I was confident that, even just a week before Christmas, I’d be able to make the prints, assemble the cards, and bask in the glow of another successful holiday tradition. Nope. After making about 10 prints, my printer gave me an error message that I had never seen before. It turns out that, after a certain amount of time or a certain number of prints (I don’t know which), this printer just stops and essentially says, “time to buy a new printer.” Granted, this printer is easily 10 years old. That is archaic in terms of printer lifetimes, but I was dismayed to learn about this built-in obsolescence “feature” after five minutes of research on Google. My dismay turned to outright depression as the implications slowly dawned on me. There was no way I could get a new printer before Christmas and it was not possible to have my cards made in time by an online company. Rats, 2018 would be the year without a Christmas card! Very sad face!

Ultimately, all is not lost. I opted to use a third-party company to make cards that I’ll use to send out as greetings for a happy 2019. I also learned about some cool new stuff in the process, so next year I can send out Christmas cards that have a personally-printed photograph and are even more cool than ever. Yay. My lesson? Don’t wait until the last minute and be open to new things. Now, if I can just remember that…

Here is the image from what would have been my 2018 Christmas card. The image is entitled “Crystal Forest.” I created this image in the Yellow Mountains of China after an intense hoarfrost blanketed the area the night before. I was on a workshop led by Marsel van Oosten and Daniella Sibbing. If you are not familiar with Marsel’s work, Google his name. It is worth the time viewing his images!

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