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?

Encouragement?

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?

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The Father’s Day Card

In the card department the other day, the final frantic search for the perfect Father’s Day card continued to the very last moment before the big day. I couldn’t believe the mad rush, as I expected the Father’s day cards to be purchased way in advance since we moms tend to plan ahead. Guess I was wrong.

One dad I know commented that he observed something strange about Father’s day activities. “Why is it,” he asked, “that we take the women out to dinner to a fancy restaurant on Mother’s day, but the dads eat at home on Father’s day? Not only that, they are the ones cooking their own dinner!”

“I guess because it happens so rarely,” I said. When I thought about it, I realized the truth of his comment. We all picture the grill being fired up to officially start the summer season—on Father’s day.

While at Dunkin’ Donuts one morning, I saw an adorable father-daughter team sitting across from me, enjoying their healthy breakfast. She was probably two years old. Coffee and a donut for him, juice and a donut for her. An icing-topped donut covered with sprinkles. Her white-blonde hair with the ponytails sticking straight up matched the white icing on her donut. Those crystal blue eyes of hers were gazing with glee at her dad between those sticky bites. They were having a ball. With dad, it’s about doing things which are out of the ordinary, and donuts for breakfast instead of, say, a healthy portion of eggs and whole wheat bread, make any outing with dad a special event.

The bottom line: getting dad’s attention. What’s better than simply hanging out, having donuts and a chat, and easing into the day with no apparent schedule in mind? Certainly beats the mad rush out the door with mom.

Men, we do love your lack of structure and routine, sometimes. It’s only special because we moms are creating the routine all of the other days. So I guess it’s a special day for all of us.

Happy Father’s day, dads.

 

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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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The Mother’s Day Card

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In the card department the other day, I frantically set the final batch of mother’s day cards to keep up with the gargantuan demand for all-things-mom.

There are cards for mom, mother, mother-in-law, grandma, nana, grandmother, sister, aunt, like-a-mom, friend, daughter, daughter-from-your-mother, mother-from-your-daughter-, mother-from-your-son, stepmom, and of course, mom-from-your-dog. Guess you never thought of all those options, huh? A large majority of the cards are sweet and sentimental but my favorite are the funny cards. These had customers laughing out loud and I laughed along with them.

In its simplest form, I believe mother’s day is the busiest greeting card holiday of the year because it represents unconditional, unlimited, beautiful love. Who wouldn’t want that?

Ah, a beautiful thought, but when shopping for mother’s day cards the day before the holiday, the message of love can get lost in the shuffle. Tenacious and focused, I continued to put the cards out despite the tension in the air.

I heard my favorite conversation which went something like this:

Little girl: “Daddy.”

Pause.

“Daddy.”

Pause.

“Daddy.”

Pause.

“Daddy!”

Then, finally, the dad: “What?”

Little girl: “There’s a lot of daddies here!”

I looked around and laughed out loud. A row of men ten across and three deep were looking for mother’s day cards.

That little girl is going to be a card merchandiser one day.

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