Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

In Praise Of The Humble Card

Cards are having a tough time of it lately.

I mean, what with email and ecards and online flowers etc, I know my investment in the card industry has plummeted. Heck, I haven't even done Christmas cards for the last two years, a fact which I deeply regret as I have lost contact with some people as a result. This of course brings me to my point. There is nothing like a card really.

There is also nothing like a carefully chosen gift, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. A carefully chosen gift can demonstrate your intimate knowledge of someone, or at least that you have enough respect for them to find out what they need/like and search it out. Which is what makes kids' birthday parties tricky; especially when you are a step parent and do not know the birthday boy.

Recently I have been landed witha number of last minute 'he's going to a party's. Dad of course makes no effort to buy gifts in advance because he just doesn't think like that >:-( so when I asked Small Boy what we needed to get for someone's present the other day he announced that we simply needed to put money in a card: 'That's what Mum does and anyway, that's what he was asking for.'

This rankles with me. It smacks of laziness. It stinks of not bothering to find out who the child is and what he likes/is interested in. It reeks of materialism. It's like paying to go to a party.

However, my hands were tied a little. It was last minute, it was an 'early start' party and things have not been all sunshine and roses with the Small Boy here this week and I didn't feel like another argument. So off to the shopping centre we went to buy a card and drop Small Boy off at the movies.

Once there I insisted Small Boy have a hand in choosing a card. His initial pick, which involved an analysis of different kinds of farts , I rejected as inappropriate. He then claimed he didn't know where to look for another one (give me strength) and also informed me that he wasn't sure how old his friend actually was! That ruled out the age related cards. Like pulling teeth, we finally and excruciatingly found a safe, cheerful, appropriately amusing card. Upon purchase I found a pen for him to write in the card.

"We don't need to," he snapped, keen to be getting to the party,"It's got writing in it already."

Is the counter of a card shop the place to lecture a child on the importance of a hand written message? Of the emotion that can be communicated through a few well thought out words? Ask the Bestie's mum. When I wrote out the card for her 80th birthday I wrote it through tears of love and she, equally, called me the next day to tell me how much it had meant to her.

Is it just women? Do men not get that? I don't believe that because my ex husband wrote the most beautiful cards to his little daughter as she grew (and he continues to do so). Whatever the reason, I felt it was a sad indictment on...what? Some people? I don't think we can tar the whole Gen Y with this particular brush although speed and immediacy of communication do discourage thoughtful reflection. No, I can't tar them because I know my daughter spends time choosing cards (or even making them and she hates craft), I think this one falls squarely on the shoulders of adult role modelling and is yet another example of where Himself and his ex and I differ.

I've been in at school this week in the holidays painting sets for the Year 12 production. Out of the blue, and much to my surprise, on Wednesday the Year12s arrived with cards and chocolate to say thank you. The chocolates are gone but the card is still here on my desk.

Image credit


HipMomma said...

Sign of the times I guess. I still make the girls write thank you notes though for all the gifts they receive.

Arizaphale said...

Good for you. It IS appreciated.

Gawlerites said...

I would sooner give you a big lippy kiss

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

These days I usually make my own cards. But I've never been big into the store bought kind. And when my kids were younger and I had even less time to myself I would just make a gift tag. In fact, I didn't even realize people actually read those long, mushy cards until a friend of mine bought one for her mom and I watched her mom read every word and respond to it as if it had been written especially for her.

And I've never been much of a gift wrapper either. I remember my parents wrapping my gifts in all sorts of things. In fact we were just talking last week about how my brother and I got calculators for Chanukah one year wrapped in brown paper lunch sacks.

BUT I do take great care to pick out just the right gift. My mom always taught me that it was important to pick each gift individually. And she said money and gift certificates weren't personal.

But that was in the days before gift cards and they've become so popular. I am guilty of the gift card thing sometimes, but I think it's nice for those people that you know, but don't know all that well. That way they really do get something they actually want even if you don't know them well enough to have the slightest clue what that might be. But for friends and family I try and pick out just the right thing.

ktjrdn said...

I have a friend whose birthday is coming up. I could really use one of those cards with ananalysis of different kinds of farts. It would be chosen carefully and demonstrate your intimate knowledge of her. :)

Hey, my capcha is "baked." I am not!

Arizaphale said...

Gawlerites: All big lippy kisses gratefully accepted.

Jill: Gift cards (vouchers we call them)are infinitely more appropriate than money because they at least show that you know which store the person frequents, or if you give them a music store voucher it shows that you know they like music/movies! Hand made cards rock and what's the point of wrapping something beautifully when you know exactly how many nano-seconds it is going to take the receiver to rip the thing to shreds? Ask the Bestie's mum. She once spent an afternoon creating a beautiful everlasting floral 'display' in a vase for the Bestie who, completely indifferent to the effort involved, dismantled the entire thing in 3 minutes flat to get to the vase.Her mum's face was a picture and I don't think she has bothered to go to the same trouble since.

Katie: HALF- baked perhaps? hahaha

Mid Sis said...

Just recently I received a handwritten card from a colleague who used to work in my team. It was essentially saying that she valued me and had learned from me whilst we had worked together (not recent either - she left several years ago). I don't think an email with the same content would have made me as appreciative - or emotional!