We have great Christmases now that we don’t do any gift exchanges, except for the wee ones, and that’s not much of an exchange, just yet. Dave still strings up lights and we get some kind of a tree because Pootie insists. He’s sitting on a mountain of truly garish ornaments and if we don’t give him an outlet, he might disgrace us in front of the whole neighborhood. We get some kind of meal together that features butter so prominently it might as well be the carveable main course. We’re jolly. Dave makes almond roca and distributes it to the masses. I make Christmas cards and send out about a hundred of them.

The only real crappy part left is the traditional holiday Mail Merge Moment, when I attempt to transfer my Christmas card address list to peel-and-stick labels. I warn Dave when I’m about to do it so he can find something to do miles away.

When I finally got a Mac, I panicked that everything I’d ever written would be lost because it was all in Microsoft Word. I thought maybe all my old Word documents would come up to my Mac and be all howdy, howdy and my Mac would sneer and say qu’est-ce que c’est? and go off in a snit and eat cheese.

The guy at the Mac store assured me it wouldn’t happen, but he did say if I felt more comfortable with the Word program than whatever Mac has–we may never know–I could have Microsoft Word For Mac installed on my machine. So I did. I do have a technology phobia and would prefer to use what I’ve already learned even if it’s crappier. Everything is working well enough, except for the label issue.

I did successfully get my addresses into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, so it’s merely a matter of summoning up the Mail Merge Wizard. “Wizard” should make you feel all confident. Like there might be wands, and everything. This wizard was last seen floating off in a balloon and bellowing “I don’t know how this works!”

There is, as it happens, no place on the toolbar into which you can type “I would like you to put these addresses on those labels please.” Instead, you select Print Layout in View. Just do it: there’s no need to know why, Little Missy. Then, some whole other place, click on Mail Merge Wizard and then click on Yes I Want A New Document You Asshole We Just Did This Last Year, and then you’ll need to put in what kind of labels you have, where you bought them, how much you could have saved on line, and the serial number of your printer, which can be found on the box you recycled. Then you click on the pop-up List Frammulator and find an icon that asks you if you’re getting your list from an Open Data Source or the CIA or the desk drawer on the left, and you can save yourself about a half hour here because you wrote down the correct answer several years ago and you still have the notes. Click on that, and a new menu pops up that asks you whether you want the name to appear on the label (click “yes jerkwad”) and what your first pet’s name was, the name of your oldest sibling, and the street where you grew up, and after about a half hour, the wizard has all your passwords and will decide to start working on your labels once he conducts a little personal business.

Now it is time to Edit Labels! Click on a field name under “Insert Merge Field.” Yes, those are all verbs and also all nouns, but it is not necessary for you to know what it means, so don’t trouble yourself. This will generate a pop-up window. Click inside it and then locate the book nearest you, turn to page 56, and find the sixth sentence. Once you’ve typed that into the space provided, it will trigger a new pop-up window. Click on “fill in items to complete document.” The wizard will do that, only in secret. You

won’t see anything on screen. It’s time to print.

I need four pages of labels. This year I only went through twenty of them plus some bond paper before I got what I needed. I shaved fifteen minutes off my previous record, too.

I don’t know how the Mac would do it, left to its own devices, but I think you just slap the printer and say here boy, here boy and it bounces over to the printer with your address list in its mouth, and then comes back and licks your screen clean.