Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas cards: Well, at least they got sent out...

Some background for this post: We've been crazy over-scheduled the last couple weeks. Normally, our evenings are pretty full -- we lead a small group on Monday nights, another on Wednesday nights, David leads a junior guys' Bible study on Thursday nights, and we have PEF Friday Night Fellowship on Fridays. But the last couple weeks, we've filled pretty much every single free night with a Christmas party or other event. Plus, we're starting a new ministry at our church, aimed at the twenties and thirties demographic -- so throw in an organizational meeting/Christmas party for that as well.

Don't get me wrong; we really enjoyed all of these events, and getting to spend some quality time with our dear friends. But by the time the weekend rolled around, we were kind of wiped out.

And we hadn't even started our Christmas cards yet.

See, one of the family traditions we started when we got married was an annual Christmas newsletter. We picked a fun picture of the two of us from some special moment during the year, and wrote up a summary of major events and life in general.

Our Christmas letters from 2006 and 2007

This year, we decided we wanted to do something a little different. We ordered Christmas photo cards, with our smiling faces on the front, and a standard Christmas greeting printed on the inside. We were then going to write up an abbreviated newsletter on pretty holiday paper, nest it in the cards, and then send them off. The original reasoning behind this was that we didn't really have a lot of news to share from this year, since nothing "major" happened, so we could get away with using half-sheet newsletters inside our pretty cards. So with this plan in mind, we designed and ordered our photo cards over Thanksgiving weekend.

I also decided that I wanted to hand-address our envelopes this year. I always felt bad, sending out a mass newsletter with printed labels to the 150+ people on our list -- it seems so impersonal, no? So we figured we'd try to cull the list down a bit this year, and the personal touch would be the hand-written address on the envelope.

So the tasks facing us as we went into this project on Sunday afternoon, all the time that was left for us, after having had a busy Saturday as well: (1) culling our Christmas card list; (2) me hand-addressing the envelopes (which couldn't efficiently happen until after we culled the list, right?); (3) writing the text for the insert; (4) designing and printing the insert; (5) using the PEF office paper cutter to cut the inserts in half; (6) nesting the inserts into the cards; (7) folding, stuffing, and sealing the cards; (8) buying stamps; (9) stamping the cards; and (10) bringing the cards to the post office.

In retrospect, I agree that that was a crazy idea.

We gamely set out on Sunday afternoon to get this all done. We very quickly hit Snag #1: we couldn't bring ourselves to make very many cuts to our list. The way we saw it, we could either cut the list down to just family and close friends (who already know the basic details of our lives), or we could view our Christmas letter as a once-yearly update to those we don't get to talk to very often. So after much going back and forth, we ended up with a list of 200. (Yes, that's higher than last year's list -- we added friends of ours who graduated from Princeton in '08. )

Armed with this list, I started addressing the envelopes. (Yes, I still decided to hand-address the envelopes. That was part of the plan!) And David sat down to write the insert -- he's the one who writes our newsletters, because he's a much better and funnier writer, in my opinion.

We then hit Snag #2: the holiday paper we had bought had a very pretty holly and ivy border -- which cut into the corners, such that a 1" margin all around would cause the text to be printed on top of the dark green and dark red design. So we had to fiddle with the document in Publisher and print out several test copies on regular paper before we were satisfied that the newsletter would be readable.

Finally, we put the special paper in our printer and sat back to relax while the printer did its thing. Snag #3:"its thing" consisted of pulling the paper through at an uneven rate, such that several sheets were printed an inch or two down the page from the top. And then run out of ink. But keep on "printing" until all 100 sheets had gone through the printer. Several of which consisted of just scattered spots and lines of ink -- i.e., totally ruined.

At this point, I was ready to just sit in the middle of the floor and cry. David talked me down off that ledge, though, and we tried to think through our available options. We had no special pretty paper left, I was very mad at our printer, and we were only about halfway through the addressing of our envelopes. And it was 6:30pm on Sunday night.

In the midst of this frustration, we had a sudden brainwave -- let's direct all our Christmas update recipients to this blog! It's certainly a more detailed account of the goings-on of our lives, so the people who actually want the update can come here to find it.

So we ended up just printing up cute little stickers to put in our Christmas cards, telling everyone to check out our blog.

Front and inside of our 2008 cards; click to enlarge

I'm afraid our Christmas cards this year ended up being even less personalized than usual, since we didn't even include an update in the cards themselves. So that's why we wanted to create this post -- to explain why our cards ended up they way they did, to give you all a little window into our lives... and to post the text of the update David had written for the cards!

Dear family and friends,

Merry Christmas from the Keddies! This past year has brought a sort of normalcy to us, with Christina spending her first full year as an attorney and David starting his fifth in campus ministry. Normal, though, means a vibrant and sometimes overwhelming life of long and unusual work hours, varied Bible studies and small groups, dinners and parties, travel and weddings.

Christina is enjoying her work as a corporate litigator with the Princeton office of [law firm]. As part of large teams of lawyers dealing with larger cases she’s yet to need to show up in court, but has plenty of experience writing deposition outlines, researching points of law and reviewing documents. Her primary clients are pharmaceutical companies defending against mass tort claims over alleged undisclosed side effects of products. Christina’s been privy to enough inside information to keep us from being allowed to sue half of corporate America thanks to the conflicts of interest!

David is still eager and energetic for the work of campus ministry at Princeton University. Whereas Christina works during the days and into the nights, David works during the nights and into the weekends... His focus is Bible studies with junior guys as well as sharing the teaching load at the ministry’s large group meetings. We also now minister together leading two small groups through our church, and are expanding them into a new ministry aimed at the twenties and thirties demographic. Any advice would be welcome!

We’re thankful for each one of you and welcome you to visit us in Princeton any time. If you’d like more regular updates on our life, feel free to friend us on Facebook and check out our new blog,

With love,
David and Christina