Cards and Conversations

Observations about life, people and relationships from the card department.

In-Law Cards

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In the card department the other day, a couple was in the “daughter” section looking for a birthday card. This one was not for their daughter though, it was for their daughter-in-law. Then I heard the strangest comment. The man said they needed a card which celebrated her, but didn’t condone her.

I don’t know what he meant.

In-law relationships are fragile.

Another day a woman asked for a holiday card for her “grandson and his wife.” Was she trying to include the granddaughter-in-law or was she making a point that her grandson was more important?

I still remember when I first met my husband’s grandmother, the family matriarch, more than twenty years ago. Getting invited to her house for dinner was how I knew our relationship was serious. Would I make it in her eyes as “family material?” I needed to spruce up on my manners. Who wrote those old books on manners, anyway? Smile pretty. Keep elbows off the table. Use gravy on the mashed potatoes. Take just one pat of butter. If the internet was popular then, I would have searched for Emily Post’s website on etiquette to brush up before the big event.

Grandmom turned out to be a sweetie. She told fascinating stories of times long ago as she served her favorite meal, roast beef. Of course, she had all the proper fixings, including mashed potatoes with gravy. She made her exquisite gravy by pouring the meat drippings into a separate saucepan, quickly whisking in some flour while heating so there were no lumps, then straining carefully until it was smooth and came together. Rolls with softened butter and steamed green beans rounded out the feast. It became clear Grandmom enjoyed company and preferred to have people over to share some of her favorite foods with her. Then came dessert. The lemon meringue pie she served was so perfect it looked fake. It tasted immaculate.

A couple years later, I was an official in-law. What a treat when I received a birthday card from her that year which referred to me as “granddaughter.” Maybe they didn’t have granddaughter-in-law cards then, but I like to think she was trying to tell me I was a true member of the family.

So yea, in-law relationships are not always smooth but, like the gravy, sometimes it all comes together.

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Love is Still in the Air

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In the card department the other day, I finally removed the remaining Valentine’s Day greetings. So much love, so little time. It’s estimated the greeting card industry sold over $800 million in sentiments for the heart-shaped holiday this year. All for a single three-word message: I love you.

Saying “I love you” has never been out of style. And believe me, there are a bazillion ways to say it. There were serious cards, funny cards, sentimental cards, wordy cards, short-and-sweet cards. There were musical cards, pop-out cards, and, my least favorite, insanely glittery cards. Glitter belongs in the craft aisle, not on cards. After a while, the cards all started to look the same, like photocopies of each other. But one day, I had a different experience. It was the day the Asian man with his three kids, all looking like photocopies of himself, strolled past.

He approached me and asked, “Where are your (insert hand gesture as if describing the large fish he just caught) BIG musical cards?”

I’ve fielded many card-finding requests, some typical, some unusual. There’s the “Where are your granddaughter cards?” and the “Where are your great-aunt cards?” but seriously, no one asks for the musical cards. They pick them up by accident, out of curiosity, never planning to buy them. They simply want to check them out. Many people seem to be in too much of a hurry to enjoy the cards. It’s a shame, because there’s always a giggle or a smile that follows the 30-second show. But this guy was looking for them. Not only did he ask for the musical cards, but he wanted one that was the size of a notebook.

“I don’t think they’re quite that big, but the musical cards are down at the other end of the aisle, over there,” I pointed.

“Thanks!”

He and his three children spent the next ten minutes looking at, listening to, and laughing at practically every musical card on display. Not only that, he selected one, grinned a gargantuan smile, and left.

Now that’s love.

Have you witnessed any unique ways of expressing love lately?

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