I have one resolution, and I know I’ll stick to it — at least until tomorrow. Here’s the story.
If the holiday cards arrive today, they’re technically on time, right? If they say something like “Merriest Holidays,” of course. Enjoy the Happiest Holidays! Fully Involve Yourself in the Utmotiest Gaiety Interval!
If your cards were vague, and they arrive today, you did fine. But don’t you wonder sometimes why we don’t do separate cards for New Year’s?
At this point, some readers’ eyes have gone wide, and they are wondering what sort of maniac they let loose in the paper today. Really? Another set of cards? Let me explain my thinking.
In olden times, my parents would buy a box of cards at the drugstore, sign them, lick the flap, lick the stamp, dump everything into the mailbox and that was it. Now we have to have the pictures, and because Daughter is in Brazil, we must have ones that say “Brazil.”
“Can you go to a market and get some pictures of you with some exotic fruit?” my wife asked Daughter. I was tempted to add, “Could you write BRAZIL in Sharpie on some people’s heads, as well? That would help.”
But I just kept my tongue, because I knew no one would look at the picture, and say, “I do believe that’s a banana da terra, a fruit common to Brazil that is often cooked rather than eaten raw like our bananas. How about that.”
Once the pictures had been sorted, it was time to go to the drugstore website to find a template. Two hours later, I had a card all designed, and I ordered them for same-day delivery. The site said they would be available the next day after 10, which isn’t exactly same-day delivery. But if you order them on a Monday and they show up a week later, technically that’s the same day, because it’s Monday.
Next step: Print off the labels. We have a master list of Christmas card recipients that gets edited every year, but is never quite perfect. Who are these people? The last time I saw these guys, our daughter was a zygote. But they sent us a card last year, so we’re obliged.
Finally the list is ready, but then I discover that I’m out of labels. Off to the office supply store. Carols are playing. A guy in a red shirt is neatening up the Post-it aisle. Festive as all get-out, really.
I buy labels and go home. The printer will not print because it is out of black ink.
No problem. I’ll print the labels in red. Festive as all get out. The printer refuses to comply and continues to send the message that it is bereft of ink. So I drive back to the office supply store. Carols are playing. A guy in a red shirt is neatening the reams of paper, and I wonder if he’s the head ream-neatener or the assistant to the ream-neatener. But it’s still festive as all get-out.
I buy a black ink cartridge, which is sealed in a plastic box like it’s something dangerous — you know, like cold medicine. I put it in the printer, and run the head realignment program. By this time I wish there was a head realignment program for humans, because I am slightly stressed: Have to get the cards out to encourage everyone to have the merriest happiest.
The printer does not print. At this point, you want to either throw up your hands or your lunch, because you see Santa in the Rudolph special shaking his head and announcing, “Looks like the holidays are canceled this year due to an unknown error (code 3t63).”
Then I remembered that the computer had crashed the day before, and all the settings had been whacked back to default. The computer was trying to connect to an old printer. I reset the defaults, and the printer spat out all the labels.
Whew. Well, let’s get the cards. Off to the drugstore. Swear to Kringle, this happened: As I walked up to the photo desk, one guy was placing a big clunky printer on the counter, and another was pulling a new printer out of a box.
“Trouble?” I said.
“Yeah, the printer died.”
They said I should come back tomorrow morning. This I did. The new printer wouldn’t work, said the clerk. I stuck my index finger in my coat pocket like I had a gun. “I want you to come with me and we’re going to my wife’s office and you’re going to explain why you can’t get the printer online.”
He said it would be easier to send them to another store, and I agreed. Even if he believed the finger was a gun, it would take half an hour to get to my wife’s office, and then there’s parking.
I changed the order to another drugstore, and it was done in an hour. I had the cards ready to go an hour later, and in the mailbox in time for holiday arrival.
There are two points I took away from this:
1. If we had a tradition of New Year’s Day cards as well as Christmas cards, the exact same thing would have happened a week later. I would have been texting Daughter for a picture that says “like Times Square at 11:59 before the ball drops, but Brazilian.” And she would have sent me a phone pic of a clock with a banana da terra next to it.
2. My simple resolution for this year: I will never do one of those “we all hate printers, amirite???” columns, because they’re cheap and obvious. Also because I just got it out of the way under the wire.