I hate greeting cards. I mean, I hate them. Nothing frustrates me more than combing through the aisles of CVS looking for the pre-packaged sentiment that will never make me sound like I've become a being of pure saccarhine, like a caller into that "Delilah" radio show with training in calligraphy.
Each year, from my father's birthday in April, all the way through my sister's birthday in September, I periodically launch onto the breach of the greeting card section. Regular cards always suck. Funny cards...? Well, they suck too. Crom, protect me from "funny" cards. And if you don't, then to hell with you.
Then I broke the matrix. I love greeting cards now. They are my third favorite thing to shop for, right after books and cholesterol.
How did I do it? How did I learn to love the long-distance social interaction that had so thoroughly defeated me in the past?
Easy. I started doing it wrong.
Birthday cards weren't getting across the idea that I was thinking about loved ones on their birthday. Father's and Mother's day cards were barely getting across the idea that I remember I still had parents. I had to look further.
I had to start buying the wrong cards. For one mother's day, I decided my mother had worked hard to be born in this country, and it was about time someone acknowledged it. Bingo: She received a "congratulations on attaining your citizenship" card. At some point in the future, someone will be receiving congratulations on passing their driver's test, even if they did so over forty years ago.
Now, to be fair, there are pitfalls. Over a year ago, I bought a "Sympathies for the loss of your Son" card that, while it seemed hilarious and foolproof at the moment I bought it, persists to this day in being unable to find its appropriate moment. Most sympathy cards are dangerous, especially where pets are concerned. No one wants to get that card. This is supposed to be fun, not an unfortunate reminder of mortality. This can seem like a method for getting out of work during special occasions. It isn't. If you're lazy, the correct card is still available.
Father's Day 2014? You've never lived until you've bought a Bat Mitzvah card from a Walgreen's in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
I didn't even know we had batmitzver cards here...
Well, it's for my father.
Another year I got him a quinceañera card. It appears I very much want to celebrate my father's burgeoning adolescent womanhood, while still honoring our eclectic (and non-existant) cultural heritage.
Mom's birthday this year? Let me tell you, your average Hallmark store has a wide array of strangely specific cards. The more specific to a religion that is not your own, the better. Unless my mother was recently ordained as a Priest in the Catholic church, my birthday wishes for her in 2016 are going to be befuddling for sure. I may only be able top that one if Hallmark starts publishing a line of "Greeting Cards for the occasion of your Scientology Auditor's 47th birthday." You have a year, Hallmark! Get to work!
The rest of the family joined in on the fun. My parents celebrated my thirtieth birthday with a card that celebrated my commitment to play an active role in my children's lives (I am childless) and extolling the proud example I am serving for the rest of the African-American community (...). I'm waiting for the day when I get an anniversary card with Batman telling me that I'm 5-years-old now, and "getting to be a big boy."
Anyway, that is how our family has managed to interrupt the doldrums of otherwise obligatory interactions. Do you have any strange family traditions? Tell me about them in the comments. Hell, I might just adopt them.
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