Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Greeting Card Abyss

In our mildly dysfunctional family, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day and Father's Day have always posed a problem.  We just aren't the kind of people who show up in a Hallmark movie-of-the-week, or between the covers of their greeting cards.  My dad, the parent who hugged and kissed us and occasionally played with us, loathes mawkish sentiment and is made acutely uncomfortable by any card that doesn't have a funny animal on the front.  My mother, on the other hand, would love to receive a "World's Best Mom" card, but during the time we were growing up she was a demanding perfectionist who hated to be touched, so I have never been able to bring myself to give her one.

Next month my parents will be celebrating their first anniversary since moving into assisted living, and the greeting card crisis has entered a new and uglier phase.  As my mother's dementia has increased, my father's patience and happiness have steadily eroded.  None of the commercial cards I've looked at has seemed even marginally appropriate.  Anniversary cards are few and far between, anyway, far outnumbered by the birthday, "friend," and sympathy cards; I guess we all have birthdays and die, but only a minority marry and stay married.  The anniversary cards I've seen fall into one of the following categories: "You two are perfect for each other;" "Your marriage is an example of God's love come to earth;" or "Wishing you many more happy years together."  Can I buy any of these given my parents' current situation?  I think not.

In short, this may be the year of the homemade card.  I'm thinking of recycling the invitation I made for their last big anniversary party, or at least its cover:

Yes, that's their wedding picture.  Now I just have to think of something (besides "Happy Anniversary") to put inside.  Frankly, the things that spring immediately to mind ("It's not the years, it's the mileage," "Still crazy after all these years") are almost as inappropriate as anything Hallmark ever came up with.

Maybe just "Happy Anniversary" is fine.  With a "Love, Beth" after it.

"Sentimentality is intolerable because it is false feeling." ~Doris Lessing

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