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.