I love giving cards. I love receiving cards. I can spend 45 minutes standing in the card aisle at Walgreens, Publix or Target and open, read and search for just the right card to send to someone. Yes, I could go home and design one. I’ve done that too, but there’s something about the hunting, the gathering. All that.
When you receive a card in the mail, I’ll bet it’s the first thing you open. Be honest. It is for me. Someone took a pen and wrote my address on it, they put a stamp on it, and they mailed it. It’s the human touch that still makes us happy or connected and alive. Sometimes I keep the card; sometimes it goes in the trash after I’ve read it, or gets displayed on my kitchen counter for a few days. Maybe it’s a girl thing. Mom taught my sister and me to always send a thank you card to the person who gave you a gift or invited you to something. At the time, it felt like a chore, but I am so grateful now for the lesson. (Should I send Mom a thank you card?)
The first week of May is when I can spend about $50 bucks on cards. In just seven days my family celebrates my niece’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, my grandma’s birthday (now deceased), my folks’ wedding anniversary, my niece and her new husband’s wedding anniversary and finally Mother’s Day.
Getting a “Thank You Email” will never, ever replace a card in the mail. Is it better than nuttin’? I dunno, I suppose. And those electronic-animated cards are dull and take forever to finish. The payoff is rarely worth my time to sit there and watch a (insert animal) chase a (insert object) that turns into a (insert analogy for that holiday) while a glowing candle in the window slowly dims and snow begins to fall. I’d love to be in that creative meeting where the “Film Director” is jacked up on Red Bull and spitting out ideas for crap like this. “Wait! What if it was a (insert animal) that looks AT the viewer and makes a funny face, like ‘how did that happen?’”
A while back, my dear friend Bryce had a washing machine go on the fritz. He called me asking if he could come over and wash his clothes. We had a nice visit. Two days later, I received a card in the mail thanking me for letting him use my laundry facilities. It was so nice and unexpected (not to mention unnecessary), it made me smile for the rest of the week. I’m telling you, it’s things like this that live with me forever. Tiny things can make big impressions. It’s thoughtful. It’s romantic. It’s kind. It’s just a card, Jill. Get over it.
I still send birthday cards and stick a $1 dollar bill inside. This was what I used to get from my aunts and it was always such a nice gesture. Even today, it’s just fun to open up a card and receive a buck. What can you buy with a dollar? Not a card, but you get the idea. Yeah, it’s almost worthless, but I’m tellin’ ya, it’s still fun to do.
Nowadays, (I know…here comes the lecture), people wish others happy birthday by clicking on Facebook and “liking” the fact that Facebook not only reminded you when your imaginary friend’s birthday was, but that you didn’t have to write anything else. Yes, the few (very few) times I’ve done this, I felt horrible. It’s meaningless to me and seems fake as ever. Gee, it took me all of a nanosecond to make a decision to click on “thumbs up.” Seriously, any Rhesus monkey can do this. I’m ashamed. Ashamed, I tell ya.
But if I were to get in my car, drive to the store, and begin my search-and-destroy mission to find you the perfect card, buy that card, sign that card, put a dollar in that card and mail it to you…believe me, you’ll enjoy that a helluva lot more than looking at how many “likes” you got the morning of your birthday.
Going back to the card rack…the cards are still not quite as diverse as they could be. Sure, we can mail cards that are in Spanish, or have an African-American slant to them. You got your secular and nonsecular cards. Cards for Bar Mitzvahs; Bat Mitzvahs; Happy Quinceañera! Congratulations, You’re Retiring! Getting Older; Buying a House; Divorced Now; Good Luck On That Operation You’ve Always Wanted; or the Death of a Parakeet.
But I’m talking about a full-on “Gay card” section that has imagery of same-sex couples. (Girl, please. I could riff all day on glitter jokes, but that’s too easy.) If a card that featured two females holding hands were available, would that not sell? I have wanted to send a card like this, but I can’t find it. What about your same-sex couple friends getting married? Man, I’d love to send a card that conveyed that. Yeah, you can order cards like that online, but when I’m card shopping, I’m in the middle of running errands and need one right now.
Maybe Hallmark hasn’t quite discovered this demographic yet. Or perhaps a “Gay card” is something Publix, Walgreens, and Target isn’t interested in? I should send them a card telling them so.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep searching for the perfect card and write my thank you notes, or best wishes, or something silly and of course, slip a dollar inside.