Cards and Conversations

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

The Kid’s Birthday Card

In the card department the other day, two women were checking out the musical selection. One said to the other, sighing, “Jake wants a card with a hamster on it singing ‘Kung Fu Fighting.’ I don’t think I’ll be able to find it. He gave it to someone for their birthday and wants it for his own birthday.”

The other woman’s comment: “Have fun with that.”

No, I haven’t memorized all the cards we sell but I happened to know where the Kung Fu card was located. Why? Because I think it’s one of the strangest birthday cards around, but I replace it often. It must be popular, huh?

I went around the corner to the other rack of cards, pulled the Kung Fu hamster out and gave it to her.

“This might be the card you’re looking for,” I said.

She looked at it, opened to the musical rendition of “Kung Fu Fighting,” and her shocked expression was more valuable than the price of the card.

She explained further that the card was for her grandson, and of course what grandmother doesn’t want to please her grandson?

“Thank you!” she said.

I notice a common trend with kids’ birthday cards. Over and over I’ll hear the moms bring their little tykes to the card department to help select the perfect card for their friends. They interrogate. How old is he going to be? What’s her favorite princess? What’s his favorite toy? I’ve been asked for Star Wars cards, Lego cards, Tinkertoy cards (hey, wait a minute, those were from my childhood!), and a card for whatever the latest kid movie on the big screen happens to be at the time. (“Let It Go,” anyone?) Most often, however, I hear the kids tell their moms they want this card or that card for their own birthday. The moms do their best to explain it’s their friends’ birthday, not theirs. Ahhh, empathy. A tough lesson to learn in childhood. It’s tough in adulthood, too.

When we find a card with the perfect words, sharing the perfect sentiment, to feel perfectly loved, it’s always worth the search.

Hamsters, anyone?

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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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