I swore I wouldn’t write another blog until after Christmas, but I just had to do this one. It’s early morning on December 21st. I need to go out for a few things, but I’m dreading having to compete with all the frantic last minute shoppers. I glanced at the advertisements, which are crammed full of the newest and fanciest electronic gizmos designed to over stimulate our youth. That got me thinking of my favorite Christmas present…
I don’t know how old I was, maybe 10 or so. The only thing I wanted for Christmas was a printing press. A printing press that really worked. Then, as now, I loved the printed word. The thought of seeing my own words printed out on a piece of paper, like a real writer or journalist, excited me.
That morning my dream came true. I had my printing press, and what a beautiful machine it was. It had an instruction book, which I memorized, and a lot of creative suggestions. I was in heaven.
The mechanics seemed easy. Plan and write out your copy by hand, then set your type. The type consisted of little letters on a rubber block that you inserted into a metal channel. The channel was then clamped down onto a rotating drum. The drum had an ink roller. You’d carefully brush on ink. Not too much or things would smudge. Not too little or your letters wouldn’t print properly.
The challenge was in setting the type. The letters were in mirror image, so you had to think backwards and upside down, it seemed to me. I quickly got the hang of it. You also had to pay close attention to what you were doing. If you left out a letter in a word you might have to rearrange many lines of type to fix your mistake.
Once the press was all set up, and the roller inked, you lowered the print drum and cranked the paper through. It was absolutely miraculous to see my words coming out the other end.
Can you imagine describing this present to a ten or twelve year old today in this world of tweets and blogs and instant everything? Attention to detail? Precise spelling and grammar? Thoughtful crafting of a message? This was fun? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he brought me the most magical present in the world that year.
Happy holidays and many blessings to you and yours.