Greeting cards are a guh-jillion dollar industry in America. I love them! Giving and receiving them. My beloved actually stockpiles them, buying unique, poignant, moving, or very funny greeting cards without anyone yet in mind to receive them. It’s dear.
Do you have a friend or relative who seems unable to send a greeting card without underlining – once, twice, even three times with a pen – the printed words in the greeting for emphasis? Try reading it out loud, giving one, two, or three times the punch to various words, depending on how they are underlined. My children and I find this amusing sport with their grandmother’s cards.
When you walk into the greeting card store, the cards are organized into familiar sections. Birthdays. Graduations. Bereavement. Coping and encouragement. Weddings. Love & Romance. Religious celebrations. And, my personal favorite, humor. I love finding truly witty or satirical greeting cards.
On the other hand, I loathe greeting cards that go on and on and on, especially if they go on and on and on with saccharine poetry. My vision of hell is that people would talk to me for eternity in Helen Steiner Rice couplets.
But, the other day, standing in a Hallmark store, I had a brainstorm. I’m submitting this idea to Hallmark Corporation to introduce a new line of greeting cards. They will be displayed on a separate rack, probably in the back of the store. Maybe even in an anteroom, behind a black curtain. It will be called simply: “Honest Hallmark.” The italics are the message on the inside …
So, I heard you’ve fallen in love!
Terrifying, isn’t it? Takes you apart. Regularly uneasy, disquieting, uncomfortable. You’ll get used to it.
Our hopes and expectations of you just skyrocketed. Don’t disappoint us.
You’re going to die. I only remind you of this because any day spent not contemplating your own death is a wasted day.
Happy Father’s Day!
I don’t tell you often enough that the predominant memory of my childhood is being afraid of you. Come to think of it, I’ve never told you.
It’s a Girl!! Or did you say “boy?”
Doesn’t really matter. Regardless of gender, you’re going to spend the rest of your life with your heart walking around outside of your body.
Thinking of you in your time of grief …
Mostly I’m thinking I admire you. You knew this was your destination the day you decided to love. And still, you loved. You’re my hero. Broken hearts are life’s highest honor.
On your wedding day …
Quick. Write down a list of things you love about your mate’s personality, temperament, and character. Save it. Somewhere in the next 2-20 years, you’ll point to exactly the same things on the same list to explain and justify your resentment, contempt, and antipathy.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
And when your wife leaves you, eat some caramels. If you are beset by injustice and evil, take your car in for an oil change. If your father sexually abuses you, learn to do a great celebrity impression. And when the doctor gives you a terminal diagnosis, make a grill-cheese sandwich. Apparently, a great alternative to the work of meaningful and holy suffering is doing something completely random.
I didn’t mean to hurt you …
That’s a lie. I said and did exactly what I knew would hurt you the most. Because I was so mad that the thing I wanted most was to hurt you. Turns out I’m capable of being flat mean and nasty to you. It’s a miracle, actually, you’re still here.
Celebrate your retirement!
And try not to question how we ever decided that disengaging from meaningful work could ever be good for any human being at any age.
Is there any hope?
That depends entirely on what you hope in and for. And let me save you some time: no, there’s no hope that you’re immortal, nor that you could ever love anything or anyone and not suffer.
Tho’ slings and arrows come your way
The endless dragons you will slay
I’ll always stand with you and say
That many days even making simple $#@!ing rhyme schemes will be impossible for you.
Honest Hallmark: When you care enough to tell the radical truth.
(Steven Kalas is an author and therapist who writes a weekly column for the Sparks Tribune. You can communicate with Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org. )