I've been procrastinating writing our Christmas letter for 2012. I don't know why. But I decided that I had to get it done today and so I sat down to do it.
You'd think it wouldn't be a big project, but it turned out to take all-day, minus an hour for a nap (I had been up since 4 a.m.).
The writing of it was pretty simple. Choosing the photos was easy. It was putting it all together that was a pain in the patootie. It actually goes together rather simply, but then you start tweaking. And tweaking. And tweaking.
I actually spent the better part of an hour just creating a graphic that says "Merry Christmas." I knew what I wanted. I thought I knew what kind of graphic I needed to get it. But Photoshop just would NOT cooperate. It's time like this when I realize that I know just enough Photoshop to be dangerous, but not enough to be competent. In the end I sort of had what I wanted, but my plan to use a drop shadow, which worked beautifully with the .jpg file didn't work with the .gif file.
I included a collage of our Compassion kids and then realized that several of them have new photos, so I wanted to redo the collage, including the new versions. That was kind of fun, going back and seeing the change from the the last time I did that graphic.
I went back and re-read last year's letter, interested to see how much of this year's is a repeat of last year's. Sometimes word for word. Obviously I have little originality.
When I had what I thought was a solid final draft, I sent it off to the family for comments, corrections, etc. After I finally did all I could do to make it the way I wanted it, while waiting to hear from everyone, I decided to go back and read all of the Christmas letters I have on line, back to the year 2000. The 2001 version got eaten up by Yahoo years ago but the rest of them are there.
In reading through those, I discovered at least one photo that had been named the same thing that one of the photos in this year's letter was named, so this year's photo had been substituted for the other one. That meant I had to search through old photos, find one that would work for the old letter, get it in the right size and uplaod it to the old Christmas letter.
I don't have a clue how many people actually read our Christmas letter when it gets on line, but it's something I care about a lot and work very hard to make right, and make it suit me, if nobody else. In the end, I'm glad I take the time, but Lord, sometimes getting it done is like pulling teeth!
One of the things that has kept me from writing the Christmas letter in November,which I usually do (continually tweaking it until I finally release it on thefirst of December) is that I've been in a kind of low-level depression for what seems like a long time. Maybe since October when my friend Pat died, or maybe as far back as April when we lost Will Connelly. The fact that we have lost twelve friends this year, all of which were our friends, not old friends of my mothers or elderly relatives is very depressing. They were our age and each one of them left a big hole in our lives.
Add to that the past week, with all the fears about Bob and not knowing what is going on with him and I just wanted to sit in a chair and stare off into space. I remembered when I was a kid and my father had a nervous breakdown. I can still see into that pitch black living room where all you could see was the tip of his cigarette as he sat there staring off into the darkness. (He didn't have television to stare at, unseeingly!)
And then today something happened that hurt me a lot. It wasn't about me, but my feelings got terribly hurt and I remembered the lyrics to that song from Chicago
Should have been my name
'cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there!
So I was feeling all sorry for myself and dipping down into that pool of depression and then Ned called. Just to chat. It was such a spirit booster, chatting with him for about half an hour, that I felt downright good when we hung up.
On days like today, it's good to have children who care, even if they don't know you're hurting.
If you want to read the Christmas letter, the direct link is here.