This past Valentine’s Day, I gave Bill a lovely Hallmark card with a verse that truly said what I would say if I could speak romance. I also bought him a small box of chocolate candies. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the card cost even more than the box of candy. It was a very nice verse.
For the most part, Bill and I don’t observe what we and many others call “Hallmark Holidays.” You know, the holidays that became popular because Hallmark decided to create some lovely and romantic cards and some stupid overly-desperate man delivered one to his girlfriend. That girlfriend told her friends, and before you could say love is a many-splendored thing, Valentine’s Day cards became a critical part of the Valentine’s Day experience. Right up there with a dozen red roses.
Of course, Hallmark cards aren’t limited to Valentine’s Day. There are birthday cards, graduation cards, anniversary cards, bar or bat mitzvah cards, confirmation cards, and on and on and on. If you can’t think of a holiday, you have the thinking about you cards.
Of course, other companies now make cards, but Hallmark cards are the, well, symbolic hallmark of greeting cards. I was interested to learn about Hallmark’s history, and was surprised to see that it is a privately-owned family business. Though now located in Kansas City, MO, it originated as a post card business in Norfolk, NE, a mere 45 miles north of my hometown of origin, Columbus, NE. Who knew? The founder, a gentlemen named Joyce Hall, had a great idea and its success ballooned until it outgrew its hometown and moved to KC.
Hallmark’s (and other companies’) cards have become somewhat prohibitively expensive. A piece of cardboard with a pretty picture and a clever or sentimental verse costs anywhere from $6 to $12, depending on how much folderol the card includes. Ribbons, tulle, springs, and such all cost more. And they have to pay the poets, don’t they?
When I decide to buy a Hallmark card, I make my decision using a tearing-up assessment. The first card with a verse that brings tears to my eyes is the winner. It’s worth a ten-spot if I get choked up as well.
When buying birthday cards for my grands, I admit that I go to the dollar store and get them two-for-a-dollar. It’s true that as they’ve gotten older, they have begun making an attempt to read the verse. All the while, however, I know they are checking out the amount of the gift card at the same time. I’m pretty sure I could give them a card that says I’m sorry for your loss, and they wouldn’t notice.
The real question, however, is what is the appropriate period of time to save a card, especially a Hallmark card. It’s true that I set every card up on its edge on my desk or counter or mantelpiece for at least a day. But I will admit that I give the card one last look after a day or two, and then toss it in the recycling with the empty yogurt containers. Bill, on the other hand, saves them all. I think he’s got every card any one of his grandkids have given him. It will be part of what they have to clean out of our house when we croak.
You know what? I think that last sentence could somehow be turned into a Hallmark card.