Let me start out by wishing everyone a belated Happy Sweetest Day! I hope that everyone ran out and got cards for their loved ones as a way to express their deepest emotions on a day made up by card companies because the space between Father's Day and Christmas was just too darn long.
I get it; that was very cynical. Getting a card from someone is always nice. Unless it's one of those cards disguised as a "Thank You" card but turns out to be a reminder that you haven't been to the dentist in four years.
My wife, she is a card person. She is able to go into the Hallmark Store and pick out fifteen cards that she has preplanned to use. We have had five wedding this summer and she just keeps pulling out new cards that she picked out just for that couple. I don't get it, but I accept it and move on.
I am not the same. I normally forget to buy a card until the very last moment, if at all. During a birthday party for my nephew last year, he picked up our gift, looked it over, and announced to the entire room that it was "from Josh because there isn't a card." These are the words of a six-year-old.
Greeting cards are a great way to tell someone how you feel without actually having to think up the words yourself. But they are also a way to hold on to one little moment in time. I usually throw cards away unless they are meaningful. My first Father's Day card will never be thrown out, and neither will the card my wife left for me the day of our wedding. These are moments that I want to remember and by reading just those few lines of a poem or limerick you are able to get back to that place, if only just for a moment.
This hit me hard recently. My parents have, as you know, emptied the house of all children and are now clearing it out. I have lived on my own for about 10 years, give or take, but have kept a few boxes in their basement because I am lazy and didn't want to go through them. Well, my mom made me. I happened upon a shoebox that was full of old graduation cards from high school. Naturally, I opened several hoping for a rogue $20 bill to fall out, but was stopped when I found one from my grandmother.
Grandma had been extremely ill at the time of my high school graduation. She had been battling leukemia for several years and by that point was not doing well at all. I read the card several times and in truth there was very little written in it. What I couldn't stop staring at was her signature.
In the months following that she got worse and eventually passed away in August of 2000, about three months after I graduated. Looking at that card took me back to all the memories I have of her. The way she used to fry eggs in bacon grease when we were kids. Yes, it's bad for you. Yes, it is the best egg you've ever eaten in your life.
It made me think of the small thin woman that I remember her as, who lived for our visits and treated each of us like a prince. Her signature on that card may be the last thing I have that came from her personally.
That, to me, showed the power that these little cards have. I couldn't tell you were most of the cards I've received in my life are, but the ones that matter are never out of reach.
I suppose I could take a little more time every now and then to pick out a card for someone that has some meaning behind it. Not just the ones that make me laugh. (I have been known to give a brother one of those half-naked man cards to be an idiot.)
I'm not much of a pack rat, but there are certain things that I like to keep. I'm glad that I kept that card from my grandma because it helped me feel close to her again, something I've not felt in a long time. Maybe those cards are a way of keeping us grounded. No matter where we go or who we ultimately become, a few simple words from someone like a grandmother, mother, father, etc. can help you remember and realize who you truly are.
Me, I'm a goofy sentimental guy who likes bacon fried eggs and the smell of burnt coffee and Virginia Slims. That might not make sense to most people, but for those of us, who do, it means the world.
Joshua expects a flurry of cards to be sent to the Tribune showing him how much his readers love him. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org