When the birthday card arrived in the mail, I could tell that it was the kind that comes with fundraising requests. There is nothing wrong with those cards, and this one had a lovely painting of a hummingbird and a purple iris on it. What surprised me was that my long-time friend would send one of those cards to me because they are rather generic.
Inside, however, Jennifer had written: “I think we can agree that this is an uninspiring birthday card but it occurred to me that if I used a card on hand rather than trying to find the perfect one in a store then I might actually get the card written and in the mail on time!”
She was absolutely correct: It meant more to have my birthday remembered and to see her familiar handwriting on that generic birthday card than to have received an email or a message via Facebook because she didn’t manage to get the perfect card.
Jennifer’s decision to use the card she had on hand reminds me of my mother-in-law and the drawers full of cards in her dining room buffet. I’ve always admired Mary’s commitment to acknowledging every occasion, whether it’s a birthday or anniversary, surgery or bereavement, and she told me she wants people to know she cares.
“My philosophy in life is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” she said. “I send cards to people to let them know I’m thinking about them hoping they will soon be feeling better or that I am happy for them or that I feel badly for them because they have lost a loved one.”
Given the price of some of the cards, and the cost of stamps, it’s understandable that most of us choose to email, text or message someone, but we lose a tangible connection when we don’t have an envelope to open and a card to hold in our hands.
Jodi Delong, a writer, photographer, editor and gardener who lives in Wolfville, also refuses to give up the experience of sending cards, and uses her commitment and stockpile to support local artists.
“I keep a stash of handmade cards on hand for popping in the mail in times of illness or loss,” Jodi explained, “because a handmade card may not cure the sorrow, but it’s apt to bring a little bit more comfort than a seven-dollar, mass-produced card from the local department store.”
Commenting on an Instagram photo of pretty notepaper, Amanda Cashin, a photographer who lives in East Lawrencetown, expressed the wish that card and letter writing wasn’t considered old-fashioned.
“We need more of these mindful, reflective practices in the world right now,” she wrote. “I love to sit and choose the right card for the right person, and I really enjoy the process of practicing gratitude.”
Amanda said she even sends a thank you card to her hairdresser after a good hair cut. My mother-in-law will be so delighted with that, she’ll likely send Amanda a card telling her how much she enjoyed reading about her in this column.