Cards and Conversations

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

The Blank Card–revisited

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In the card department the other day, a customer asked me where to find the blank cards. She wasn’t quite sure what to say and the white space freed her to share from her heart without categorizing her feelings.

I’ve always been intrigued by the appeal of the blank cards. I notice people taking extensive amounts of time to find the perfect card, with the perfect words, the perfect illustrations (and of course at the perfect price) for their loved ones and friends. Why spend the money on a card with no words inside?

She then told me why she needed the card. It was for her son—in jail. Gulp.

There is no other type of card I can think of which fits.

Good luck?

Thinking of you?


Get well soon?

None of these work. The only perfect solution? A few simple words to her son saying “I love you,” surrounded by the hug of the blank white page. I’ve always perceived words to be a gift, but sometimes the absence of words is a gift.

Have you ever used a blank card to send a special message?


The Milestone Birthday Cards

In the card department the other day, I noticed the assortment of milestone birthday cards. I found myself wondering why these ages in particular have special cards made for them. There’s the first birthday card, the second birthday card, the third…and so on until the 13th birthday. Then we drop 14 and 15 and jump to the 16th birthday, then 18th, then 21st. Why?

Adult birthday cards celebrate by the decades. 30, 40, 50, 60…and then when we hit 70, we insert the ‘5’s with special cards for ages 75, 85 and 95. And of course, the ultimate. The 100th birthday card.

I can still remember when my husband and I made the crazy mistake of having a huge shindig for my oldest child’s first birthday. Yes, it was special, but not because our son turned one. It was because we, the mom and dad, survived our first year of parenting. We invited almost 100 people, rented a hall, catered food, and had family and friends enlisted to help with the party details. What were we thinking?

Our daughter’s first birthday a couple years later was way milder…a few friends at the house to hang out and enjoy a simple cake. Now that’s more like it. We could focus on the reason for the celebration…our daughter.

As an adult, my personal favorite milestone birthday was turning 50. Some people have problems with turning 50, but others, like myself, celebrate big-time. I decided to have a celebration a month, with someone different each time, for the entire year. One month, it was a fancy dinner. Another month included an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast. I celebrated with my husband and children by visiting my favorite city, Philadelphia, for the weekend. We put our tourist hats on and had a ball. Fun!

Not all birthdays are fun, or even funny.

The other day, a mom and dad were shopping in the card department with their three elementary-age children. The mom was looking around and the dad was chatting with the children. The topic was jokes, and what it’s like to try to make other people laugh.

The dad: “Sometimes, we try to make people laugh, but it makes them cry. Remember the time Mommy was turning 30 and I got her a card that say 40 and she cried?”

Not funny!

Milestone birthdays. Sometimes fun, sometimes funny. Sometimes not so funny.

What’s your favorite milestone birthday and how did you celebrate?