Anyone who’s been reading my site for awhile still might not remember the meltdown I had two years ago in December, when I decided it would be fun to make photo calendars for my family members. I was working from two computers and two printers to get everything to print properly, which it didn’t, and it drove me crazy. I promised The Beau that I would never ever attempt to create photo calendars again, especially elaborate ones with multiple photos per page. I re-promised him last year when he thought I might weaken.
I did ask him this year before I broke that promise and he didn’t give me a funny look, so either he forgot about the degree of craziness the project inspired, or else he figured I am less likely to get stressed about the project this year, since the computers behave better and I don’t have the workload I had back then and I just plain haven’t been as stressed about the holidays this year.
I know exactly why I broke my vow and decided to plunge into the insane world of family photo calendars this year. It was that damn hurricane. My grandparents lost all their photos and I know they would like as many photographs as we can find for them. I was going to end up scanning dozens of photos for them anyway, so why not put them in a festive calendar? And why not print copies for everyone? Besides, I am not buying presents for some of the relatives this year, so it seemed like a nice gift idea.
A smart person would scan exactly 12 photos and send them to CafePress or some other service and pay to have the calendars printed. However, $15 a calendar was not in my budget, and if you have the calendars laid out and printed elsewhere, you can’t control the actual calendar pages. I wanted to include important family dates on the calendar pages, like birthdays and anniversaries. I could write them all in by hand, but … no.
Also, I don’t like the way a single photo looks at the top of a calendar. It’s too big for family snapshots, which aren’t high-quality and don’t blow up to that size without looking grainy. In the calendars I created a few years ago, each month had as many as a half-dozen photos. I limited myself to two-well-okay-three this year, which did help a bit.
I hated the calendar options in Microsoft Word and after some Web searching, found out how to hack the old calendar script in my ancient version of Pagemaker so it could produce accurate 2006 calendars. I didn’t like the fonts in the calendar template and found out that in Pagemaker, there is no way to globally change the font size and type for multiple text boxes. No wonder the application has fallen out of favor. What a pain in the derriere. (I chose Futura because the font reminded me of Wes Anderson and families like the one in The Royal Tenenbaums … it was a little film/font in-joke just for me.)
Still, the layout changes to the calendar were weirdly fun and I like scanning photos and editing them so they will print well and figuring out which photos go on which page. I decided the theme for the calendar would be weird holidays, and found Web sites that listed obscure (and dubious, but who cares?) holidays like Tiara Day, Relaxation Day, and Men Make Dinner Day and found amusing family photos to match. I made sure my sister’s ex did not appear in any photos this time.
The most difficult part of the entire project so far has been to make sure that all family members are equitably represented. Seriously. My family is like that: people will complain if they’re not in enough photos. My sister, the biggest complainer, is actually in more photos than anyone else. My mom was the toughest one to find, because she took most of the family photos when we were growing up. It’s strange to see her in so few photos, to the point where I wonder if she sneakily tried to avoid appearing in pictures. My mom has never been one of those “No, I’m too ugly to be in the picture!” people—she’s always been a skinny blonde-ish type—so it’s a mystery to me. My dad is in nearly all the funniest photos so I had to be careful about that, too.
I really do have a post-it note next to my computer with a tally of everyone’s name and the number of times they’re in the photo calendar. It’s very sad, but I wanted to make sure my baby brother and my mom weren’t left out. I ended up moving around photos tonight and adding a few just to make sure. However, my baby brother is partially to blame because I have phoned and emailed him, asking him for photos from his performances or from Halloween that I know he has on his MySpace site (which I can’t access since I refuse to sign up with MySpace), and he never did send the files. So he has no one to blame but himself if he isn’t happy with the childhood photo of him with an Ewok that I unearthed. Heh. She who creates the calendar controls the photos.
I created a PDF tonight to send to my sister so she can assure me that none of the photos will offend or annoy anyone very much, before I start the massive printing effort. I have nearly a week to print multiple copies of the calendar and I hope the process goes more smoothly than it did last year. I have already printed test copies so I feel optimistic. If it does not, well, I didn’t tell my grandparents about the calendar so they will never know. I can quit if necessary. (What I would give them instead, I have no idea. However, since they lost everything in the post-Katrina flood, I am sure I can think of something they need.)
Then I will try to find somewhere that is not Kinko’s to have the calendars spiral bound, with clear covers. And I will probably swear never to do the damn things again. And two years from now, I’ll have forgotten all about the reasons behind that vow.