Holiday Card recap, an Advent-ure Story Calendar, and a big donation! You guys rock.

I’m going to start this by telling you, my dear readers, what you did for me. And then I share what we did for others.

Or watch this all on video.

So every year I offer cards to anybody who wants to sign up for one. Wherever you are in the world, I will send you a holiday card. But because last year the requests I got quadrupled in a single year, this year I made some additional paid tiers, so they could offset the cost of doing the free cards. If nobody signed up for those, I said I was still going to fund all the free cards.

I enjoy doing the cards! But it’s been roughly lately in general. I feel like social division is getting worse, and people are getting nastier as they dig into their political trenches. Instead of bonding in our pandemic survival, we’re insisting that everything has a side and no middle ground can exist. In a world with multiple continuing genocides in multiple places, with ongoing wars, with famine and environmental crisis, many people are more concerned with the “correct” team alliances than with alleviating human suffering. And I’ve been losing friends and community as people volunteer for culture wars and, when I do not also joyfully enlist, question my integrity, my faith, my humanity.

Not a fun time.

So I’ve been feeling kind of down, one could say. I did not expect a good side of humanity to show up in my website store, of all places.

I didn’t know if any of the new paid tiers would sell. It was just a thing I thought I would try. I certainly did not expect to hear from people saying, “Hey, I bought an ebook package to help offset the free card cost, but I also want to make a donation to help pay for cards for anybody who wants them.” Guys, I was going to cover the cards anyway! And then people wanted to fund more than their share? I actually had to add an item to the store that was just a card donation. I did not expect this.

Without any politics or polemic, just hearing that many people had told me they appreciated the free cards and then upgrading or donating to help with that, my readers came through in a way that I really appreciated. Thank you.

In the end, I sat down and updated the spreadsheet for the cards, the ornaments, the shipping, the packaging, printing, postage, all the things, and here’s how it sorted out. There were fewer free cards requested this year (which shouldn’t be a surprise, because last year was clearly some sort of outlier.) People did sign up for the paid tiers, and then donated, which I had not anticipated.

When all the math is done, purchases and donations were within $13 and change of the project cost. You guys did that. Wow. Thank you.

But I said from the beginning this was not going to be a for-profit project. It wasn’t; we were $13 in the red, not $13 in surplus. That’s fine — I’ll pay the $13!

But I had expected to pay more. So I took all the money I would have spent doing printing and postage and all of those things, and I rounded up, and we are donating $1,000 to Gleaners Food Bank, the largest food bank here in the area. You did that. Thank you all so much.

The Swag

So what’s coming in your tier packages?

I always keep the card design secret; it’s a surprise when it reaches you. But this year’s theme is a dark forest, and here’s a sneak peek of the reverse, where the stamp and address will go:

An open book with trees and snowflakes on a snowy background.

The ornament tier includes a handmade card. These cards are made by kids and young adults with special needs. They create and assemble the cards to practice skills, and then they sell them to help fund their educational activities. We were their first commercial job, and they were so excited to do these! The cards are very nice, and each one is hand done.

A woman is holding up a book with a tree on it.

Each student has a job in the card assembly line, simple or skilled. Some of these students face some major challenges, so for example there’s one person who just does a particular color on all the light bulbs and such. I had some back and forth with this group and it was a lot of fun to hear about their progress.

But the price they quoted me for these was just ridiculously low. And then they made extra cards, more than I’d requested, and told me I had to pay only for the ones I chose. But with what came in from purchases and donations, they got paid double, for all the cards. So thank you, again!

A woman is holding up a black plate with a tree on it.

And then we have some beautiful ornaments, custom made just for us. These are mirrored and engraved.

And then because I got excited, I went ahead and threw in some extra new stickers. These are all glittery and sparkly, very pretty. So if you ordered an ornament package, these will be coming as well.

A Holiday Sparkle Book Sticker with a tree in the shape of a book.

I do have enough stickers to sell some as well.

And then I’m so excited about this. Everyone who ordered a paid tier is also getting an ebook. Now, in the beginning, I thought this ebook was just going to be a single story. But no, That project has also grown.

So it is now an Advent-ure story calendar!

Instead of getting an ordinary ebook with a single story, you will receive an ebook on December the first with two stories. And then you will be able to, through the month of December, open additional chapters and get more stories. So it’s like an Advent calendar, except it’s an Advent-ure story calendar.

A christmas advent calendar with a red background.

Some stories you may have seen before. You may be familiar with “Wight Christmas,” a story I did some years ago, was adapted as an audio drama, won an award. It’s in there. You’re also going to get a sequel to that, which is brand new.

There will also be some historical fantasy. You’ll also get one story not by me, because I wanted to honor the old (now faded) tradition of Christmas ghost stories, so I selected a Victorian specimen to share with you.

Anyway, so that’s the Advent-ure Story Calendar, and I hope you enjoy it. I’m kind of irrationally excited about it!

Thank you, again. Honestly, thank you so much for stepping up with the packages and the donations; I had no idea that was coming. You guys are awesome.

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