Expressing your love with Hallmark
Aspen, CO Colorado
I asked my husband the other day how he wanted to celebrate the upcoming fourth anniversary of our first date and the second anniversary of our engagement, which are a day apart later this month.
He looked at me warily. “Am I supposed to get you a card for that?”
Poor thing. He had no way of knowing when we met that I pretty much remember every occasion and memorialize it with a card. He’s still reeling from our first year of marriage when I marked each month after the wedding with a Hallmark greeting. While I never expected him to also care enough to send the very best, I think he still felt a little guilty every time he woke up on the 10th of each month for 12 straight months to find a pastel-colored envelope next to his toothbrush or wallet and he had nothing to share in return.
To be fair, I don’t commemorate nearly as many events as I used to. There was a time when I counted anniversaries not in years and months, but in weeks and seconds. In ninth grade, when my first serious boyfriend, Ted Burdick, failed to remember 30 glorious days had passed since we first went out to a movie and then for ice cream, I called a mutual friend in tears and had her call him with a gentle nudge about the missed milestone. He apologized profusely in a note he left in my locker the next morning, assuring me that it was a simple, albeit callous, oversight on his part and not a reflection of his true feelings. Thereafter Ted always expressed his undying love and absolute devotion once a month for the 211,680 minutes (give or take) we were together.
The whole premise of the ’80s classic teen flick “Sixteen Candles” has always been totally preposterous to me. It’s not that I don’t understand the gorgeousness of Jake Ryan, the pee-in-your-pants hilarity of Long Duk Dong or the romantic notion of slow dancing to Spandau Ballet in the high school gym ” because who doesn’t? But a family forgetting their daughter’s birthday? That’s just absurd.
In my family, anniversaries and birthdays are national holiday-type celebrations. When I was a kid, my parents and sister would gather in my bedroom on my birthday mornings and wake me up by singing. My dad would make chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and my mom would cook up a special request-only dinner followed by a chocolate cake from Chatsworth Bakery. No birthday was ever complete if the stationery store-bought yellow crepe paper 3-D birthday bear sitting atop a white Styrofoam circle didn’t adorn the center of the dining room table. And my mom always picked out (and still does) the most poignant card to mark the day her favorite youngest daughter was born.
Add to all that tradition the fact that my sister’s birthday is two days before mine, and no one in my immediate and extended family could ever possibly overlook the anniversary of my birth (except for my cousin Robin, who always mixes up my birthday with my sister’s, and my father, although he never can remember what he had for lunch an hour after eating it either) or fail to produce a card. And for anyone with an inclination towards forgetfulness, I offer the option of convenient reminders in monthly increments starting 90 days in advance.
It’s not just my birthday that’s unforgettable. I remind others about their birthdays and anniversaries, too. And I send cards. Real ones, not those e-card things (perish the thought). I’ll concede that I don’t send as many cards as I used to, but the card-worthy moments of friends and family keep multiplying between the birthdays, spouses’ birthdays, kids’ birthdays, weddings and wedding anniversaries. It’s just so hard to keep up. I try to call and/or send e-mails (which, as everyone knows, is much more personal than an e-card) when the card just doesn’t happen. Those who’ve dropped off my card/phone/e-mail list entirely tend to be those I either think of infrequently or those who never, ever remember my birthday. (I can do unto others for just so long.)
When I was a kid I used to make my own cards. Glitter, stickers, magazine cutouts, paint, magic markers, crayons, glue and colored construction paper were supplies that I always had at the ready. In rare circumstances, I still make cards from scratch, but unless your name is Mom or Dad, chances are you won’t be receiving one of them.
Truly though, there is no shame in card shopping. I card shop early ” at least a month in advance of all occasions ” and I tend to group birthdays and anniversaries by the month and buy them all at once. Then I fill in the cards, address and stamp them and leave them, in date order, by the front door until which time they’re ready to be mailed. I find card shopping as relaxing and satisfying as getting a really good massage.
But, getting back to my husband’s question. No, he doesn’t have to get me a card. No big deal.
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