I hate greeting cards. As a boy I considered them merely speed bumps to the present. I never cared what Aunt Eunice had to say and could barely read her loopy cursive anyway. But mom made me read them, or at least look at them long enough to give the impression that I was reading when I was actually planning my assault on the wrapping paper. I know this won’t be popular at the Hallmark store but I think store-bought greeting cards are contributing to the death of the American family as much as Snapchat, emojis, and TV at dinnertime. No matter what the pre-printed writing actually says, what it really means is, “I didn’t have time to think about you so I spent $3.99 instead.”
Only try to pay $3.99 now! Have you noticed that the costs have skyrocketed? Sure, they have the .99 rack with four choices of cows wearing sunglasses guaranteed to moooove the recipient with blissful thoughts of hooves and udders. The paper stock is so thin they can’t be signed without ripping. Next to our bovine friends are the $10 musical variety meant to distract the recipient with song so they don’t realize you have nothing to say.
As much as I hate cards, last Father’s Day I realized that one of the most special things about holidays are the cards – not the store-bought ones, the handmade variety that my children have been giving me since I’ve been a daddy. I’ve saved them in a box and they are pretty much all I have left from twenty years of gifts.
I came to this realization because last year I didn’t get any for the first time. Oh sure, that day was coming through natural course of events as my daughters age. But because of Kylie’s death, I got ripped off. She was only twelve, very artistic, and loved to make cards. So I had a couple of more crayon-colored Valentine’s/Birthday/Father’s Day/Christmas cards left and it ticks me off. Not only does it tick me off that I won’t get them, it makes me even angrier at the prepackaged sentiment inside the ones at the store! Like some balding guy in Sheboygan knows just the words my wife wants to hear (If so, I’d better keep her out of Wisconsin)!
Then it dawned on me. Every one of us got ripped off – the whole family. We all had a few more left and like a Hallmark superhero, only I had the power to change this.
So I gathered the requisite supplies: construction paper, glue, scissors, crayons, and of course, coffee. Then I spent Valentines morning cutting, pasting, scouring my emotional closet, and drawing. They aren’t as good as Kylie would have done, but my penmanship is passable for a second grader writing with his opposite hand AND they are certainly personalized!
Consider this gem for my eldest:
Boys are evil,
Daniel is bad.
Forget all their nonsense,
Stick with Dad
I found that even though your hand starts cramping because of all the writing, it is unwise to shorten this particular holiday to representative letters. “Happy VD” doesn’t sound very classy. But I decided to leave it because the card was done and JB is only 15, so perhaps they haven’t covered that in health yet.
My family had happy handmade surprises when they woke up, and Valentine’s Day was a little bit brighter for everyone except that guy in Sheboygan who has lost a customer for life. Although it was taxing for an emotional midget like me to spill his heart onto red paper, I’ve decided it is construction paper and crayons at my house from now on!
I feel somewhat like Santa on December 26th. After a few days rest, I’ll start working on next year’s sentiments. Emoting is exhausting.