Saturday, June 18, 2011

Passing the Greeting Card Torch

My phone dinged the other day and since the sun hadn't come up yet I knew without doubt who it was. Looking through sleep fogged eyes I read a text from my mother. "Did Zac get his birthday card?" He did, of course. Three days prior. The check that had graciously accompanied the card was already cashed and spent.

So, I ask the stupid question because her text had already given me the answer I knew was coming just as her bank account had given her hers. "I take it he didn't call and thank you?" Of course, he hadn't. Neither had Heather or Chris or Nathan.

Now, if our kids were in elementary or even middle school I could understand. But with the oldest being 26 and the youngest 19, somehow I thought common courtesy had been pounded into them along the way. I never forget to call and thank someone for a card because I want them to keep sending them, especially if they come with money.

What I do forget to do is send cards. I'm serious. Mom's birthday card went out the day after her birthday. Dad's Father's Day card went out around the Fourth of July. If it wasn't for Facebook I wouldn't know anyone's birthday, except the girls. I only, however, know theirs because of the Good Year Blimp reminders that float around the house two months prior.

It should have become easier with the advent of the computer age and free e-cards, those greeting cards you can send through email. Of course, I'd have to actually browse through them and pick one out instead of getting sucked into Facebook or other fascinating time-wasters. The cards are even free, so it's not like I have to wait until payday.

Of course, it does help if the person you're sending an e-card to has a computer and email. My parents just got theirs. How they survived without receiving spam I'll never know.

Still, because I know I suck at this I try to help the next generation coming up. The Monday before Mother's Day I send out a mass text to the five offspring saying, "Sunday is Mother's Day. Don't forget!" Of course, the replies I get back are "Mom reminded you, too, huh?" Knowing my children the way I do, I also make them lists at Christmas time of who they have to buy for with my name in bold at the top. I know them. They'll spend the most money on the first person and the last person gets a roll of LifeSavers.

The most frustrating time was making them fill out their graduation announcements. "This is for you, not me. I even paid for them and the $100 worth of stamps. All you have to do is address them and mail them out."

"Why? These people aren't coming to see me graduate."

"Because it's what you do. People have been doing it since the first class left the one room school house in Salem. It's tradition."

"I highly doubt they had graduation back then, Dad. Or announcements."

"Yes they did. I should know as I was there. Now, do it."

It's really the first time they do anything of the sort on their own, and usually we do it for them because we get tired of listening to them whine. We even buy the Thank You cards for when someone sends the gift for surviving high school and usually fill that out as well while they keep the gift.

But there comes a time when they are on their own and the responsibility of remembering birthdays and sending out Christmas cards finally gets passed off. For most it's when they get married and for the boys who should be men, it's not even then. Why? Because we make our wives do it. All the women are now nodding their heads up and down because they know it's true. The wives are the ones who keep the address book and pick out the cards that continuously remind us we're dying one year at a time. It's the wives that remind us to call our mom's on Mother's Day hoping we'll remember to remind our kids to do the same. Sometimes it even works.

Come to think of it, that's not a bad business venture. Charge someone an exorbitant amount of money to send a year's worth of holiday and special occasion cards. All they have to do is send you a list of names and dates one time and then they can forget the rest of the year without worry or stress. The nicer the card they want to send the higher the annual fee, flowers extra of course. Furthermore, it would have to be a female running the company because men don't buy cards until the day of, which is sad really. I mean it's not like Valentine's Day is on a different date every year. Yet, we always act like it snuck up on us even with billions of dollars spent on advertising.

It's their turn, the kids. After spending years taking them to the Dollar Store to buy gifts for aunts and uncles and cousins that never talk to them, dragging them to Hallmark to pick out that cute Mother's Day card and making them put the one with the flatulence joke back, and for giving them that friendly call reminding them of upcoming birthdays, it's their turn to remind me. It's their turn to help me pick out the cards and gifts. It's only fair!

Sighs. I know. I'm screwed.

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