Friday, September 21, 2012


"I ignore Hallmark Holidays." -Berke Breathed

You know times are tight when people start looking for alternatives to birthday cards.  My last birthday party, my aunt gave me a postcard with a nice picture on it, and some well wishes on the back for my birthday.  I thought that was a great idea, after all the purpose is to have a picture and a nice comment with the present (or even as a present).
And with as expensive as birthday cards are getting, maybe its time to rethink this whole process.  If you have some talent and time, you can make your own cards, but most people don't have that luxury.  So they go buy a card for every event, occasion, and excuse.  But birthday cards are getting pretty expensive.  In an age where printing is no longer a specialized profession, you'd think the cost would go down but no.  You can lay out $4 for a card these days, and that's a small present's worth in its self.
Now, if you're like me, you appreciate the card, you read them at the party and maybe one or two times afterward.  My family tends to put bible verses on the card for some encouragement or inspiration, and I look those up.  Then I never look at them again.  Its not that I don't care for the cards, and I do like what they say.  Its that I read it already and this isn't exactly Moby Dick. I can remember the sentiment at the very least. I'm never real comfortable with attention and compliments paid me anyway.
My mom admitted that she never threw cards away, that she has boxes of them in storage.  She never looks at them again, either, but she feels bad throwing them away.  I doubt she or I are all that unique, either.  The card is a nice touch but that's as far as it goes.
Really, isn't it time to give these things a rest?  I'm fine with sending out a card, but is it really worth the cost, especially these days?  I do really like the postcard idea.  They usually have great images and cost a tenth what a birthday card is.
Mom is considering using the old cards she has to build new ones, crafting her own with parts of old cards.  That's a pretty good idea, at least it saves money and anyone past the 1st grade can glue and cut paper.  With a computer you can print off some bit of a poem - or write one in - and away you go.
And really, that matters more to people than a storebought one anyway, in my experience.  Its nice getting a card, but getting something hand done means more, its a special effort and someone cared enough to do it just for you.
One of the drawbacks of being talented with art is the presumption and expectation that you'll switch that on any time a birthday comes up, for cards at least.  I can do it, but it takes an inspiration, I can't just fire off something without some effort, time and thought.  I do it, not as often as I should, because its a gift for people but its sort of uncomfortable to have people assume you're going to do so.
But then, its basically free - aside from a few hours of my time - and people do like the effort, as I said.
Sorry Hallmark, American Greetings, etc.  You're just too expensive a luxury in this economy and your prices are pushing you out of the range of what you offer in product.  Does anyone really need to send a card out for Secretary's Day anyway?

1 comment:

Eric said...

I've never had a problem throwing cards away, but my daughter draws a lot of pictures and has from a very young age and gives them to me as gifts, and I just can't make myself toss them.

A friend of mine has a great story about how his daughter would draw him a picture every morning at breakfast before he left for work. He'd put these in the back seat of his car, and they'd eventually get sat on or crumpled up, and he'd toss them in his trunk. So after awhile his trunk was just full of these crumpled up pieces of paper with his daughter's drawings. Then one day he was doing something with the car outside and had the trunk open. His daughter came running up to him and he picked her up, tickled her, and then put her down in the trunk of his car... where she was laying, surrounded by crumpled up neglected pictures she had drawn for him... she stopped, looked around, teared up, and yelled "Daaaddddy! My piiictures!"

Hilariously heartbreaking stuff...