Christmas Letter 2016

mehihe_xmasSo the first batch of Christmas Letters were mailed today. This batch was about 75 or so letters. This batch required no hand-written input from Paula. So off they go.

I first started this annual project almost 20 years ago. I got the idea from Paula’s mother who sent out an annual letter. Paula wanted to hand write all of her Christmas cards. But I like the idea of doing the letter. The trade-off was that Paula would do a written addition to the letters that she wanted to send.

So here’s my process. Throughout the year I gather potential photos to include. I start writing the actual letter in November. I try to cover all of the high points of our year, including where we have traveled, what our kids are up to, etc.

Now that I’m retired, I have plenty of time to work on the letter. Back in the day, I wouldn’t even start on the project until the day after Christmas during the Holiday corporate shutdown.

My goal is to get it on one double-sided piece of paper and leave enough space on the bottom for Paula to write something. I sometimes use a smaller font to fit everything in.

Concurrently, I start working on the list. As of today, there are 135 people on the list. Last year, it was at about 120 or so. It seems that having sets of friends both on the West Coast as well as the East Coast has helped push the number higher.

Then, I procure the paper and envelopes.The last couple of years, I got them from Amazon. I prefer a light background with not too much art work. I try to get envelopes and paper to match. Some years I have just got colored envelopes. It’s getting so that there is hardly anything that you can’t get from Amazon.

This year I tried to streamline the process a bit. I created  a “Xmas-Letter” group on my iPhone/iPad contact database. Each person that I wanted to send a copy got added to the group. Then I used a new app called “Label Printer” (Click for link in the Apple app store). There’s a free version that one can use to try it out.

So labels get printed. First, check with Paula on whether the list is complete. One last edit of the actual letter. Paula gets the last look before I start the print run. Check the ink cartridges for sufficient ink. Nothing so maddening as to start running out of ink half way through the run.

So by December 1, it’s time to start folding and stuffing into envelopes and putting labels and stamps on them. Then I sort them into two piles, ones that require input from Paula and those that do not. The ones not requiring input get sealed and mailed.

It’s interesting to look back at my Christmas years gone by. The early ones from late 1990’s are crude by comparison. I added clip art but not pictures. My PC at the time (a Gateway desktop, remember them?) was crude by comparison to today’s laptops. Getting pictures on to the page took a good bit more effort. One year, I tried sending pictures only by email. Bad move. I will never do that again. I believe that our friends enjoy getting reading the mail, especially seeing as it isn’t a bill.

So without further ado, here is the pointer to this year’s letter. Download if you like or wait for the post man.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.


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