My Greeting Card

dancingcoupleI almost forgot.

I forget a lot of things but some thing you can’t afford to forget, like your anniversary. I didn’t almost forget that because of a recurring reminder on my phone calendar.

I wisely set that up the year I forgot.

What I almost forgot this time was to buy a card.

My wife is utterly devoted to the custom of giving greeting cards and relies upon them to express the proper emotion for every life event.  Cards are so important to her that she waits until the very last minute before picking one out.

We will be running late, trying to make it to a wedding,  funeral or grandchild’s birthday when she will say…

“We have to stop at the Quickie-Mart.”

“Why?” I ask, pretending as if I will never catch-on.

“I have to pick up a card.”

Our local Quickie-Mart is what the name suggests, a little gas station market that carries only the essentials of rural life: gasoline, anti-freeze, milk, pizza and greeting cards.

The greeting card rack stands five feet tall and is a very generous two feet wide. It holds cards for weddings, funerals, birthdays and anniversaries – but let’s just say that the selection is limited. In other words, the cards are pretty well picked over. The good ones have long since been signed and slipped into envelopes and the ones that did not sell – well, they remain.

“Oh dear,” my wife says, “I don’t see a single card I like.”

While she is saying this, I am casting my gaze longingly on the infamous Quickie-Mart hot dogs that have been rolling around in the grill for the better part of a month.  She has her rituals, I have mine.

“Do you see anything you like?” she asks.

She is not really asking my opinion. What she is doing is asking me to pick out a card. That way she can blame the poor choice on me. I am well known for my bad taste, though very little of that is my fault.

I pick one out.

“It’s not too awful,” she admits.

In this instance the event is a child’s birthday, so I slip a ten-dollar bill into the fold to soften the awfulness.

An hour later at the birthday party, when the child is ripping open cards to get at the ten-dollar bills, I and everyone else at the party politely ignore the fact that all the cards are precisely the same.

This raises an uncomfortable question: did every card come from our local Quickie-Mart?

The answer is a resounding, NO!!.

However, it must be noted that Quickie-Mart is a chain store.

So getting back to where I started this story; I made a quick stop to pick out an anniversary card. Despite the limited selection I found a card that I really liked. On the front was a black and white photo of an elegant couple dancing on a bridge. The scene looked like it could be from London, Paris or Prague and that inspired me to pen a little note.

‘Let’s find that bridge’, I wrote, ‘and dance on it.’

I signed and sealed the card, and feeling rather proud of myself, presented it to her when I got home.

She gave me a rather sheepish look.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

She handed me her card. On its front was a black and white photo of an elegant couple dancing on a bridge.

I smiled away any embarrassment and took both her card and mine and placed them on the mantle above the fireplace – where both couples could dance together.

Author: Almost Iowa

68 thoughts on “My Greeting Card”

  1. I am such a sucker…and a sentimental love story cry baby. You got me. However, I take a lot of pleasure out of creating my own greeting cards for Sam and for my friends and relatives.

    1. Ha! Shortly after our anniversary, she went on a Danube river cruise and left me home to feed the cats. Well…. there may be more to the story than that but you are not going to hear it from me. 🙂 🙂

    1. Every once in a while, I like to explore more sentiments than humor. I considered tragedy in this essay, something about the Quickie-Mart being out of month old hot dogs.

      1. Patrick and I have been known to go into a store on our anniversary, pick out cards for each other, and then put them back on the rack. We are very generous in our card sharing – usually we pick out both a funny and mushy one. It’s great fun and then we take the money we would have spent and go out for a beer. Win-win!

  2. I love the fact that you exchange real cards. There are some wonderful e-cards out there, but the truth is you can’t tack an e-card to the fridge, or put it up on the mantel. Tangible is good, whether it comes with a ten-spot or the promise of a tango.

    1. Both cards and e-cards remain a mystery to me. Among my city peers e-changing cards is unheard of, whereas among my wife’s rural peers the failure to buy, sign and seal a card is unforgivable. They also do not look lightly upon the failure to wrap a present, tie it with a ribbon, place it in a bag and stuff colored tissue paper in after it.

      A most curious regional custom involves the opening of presents. Once the recipient has unwrapped the gift, it is passed around for examination by all the other attendees at the party.

      1. That passing of the gift ritual’s pretty common down here, but it’s connected mostly to bridal and baby showers rather than holidays. At Christmas or on birthdays, it’s considered acceptable to just hold the gift up in the air, giving everyone a chance to evaluate the giver’s taste.

    1. All buying the same card from the Quickie-Mart brought a giddy burst of joy to our hearts.

      “Oh Boy! The Quickie-Mart will be getting a new selection of birthday cards!!” someone said.
      “Yeah, probably the ones that haven’t sold over in Hayfield,” someone else replied.

    1. Hot dogs and anniversary cards in the same store?

      Like I wrote – the essentials: gasoline, anti-freeze, milk, pizza and greeting cards…… Oh, I forgot to mention hydraulic hoses for just about any equipment you can think of. If it goes on something green, red or road-safety orange, they got it.

  3. Brilliant ending.

    And if it really is your anniversary, “happy anniversary!”

    My sisters and I have often selected the same cards for our mom. I am nothing like my sisters really, except when it comes to choosing cards.

  4. I hate greeting cards but love month old hot dogs… I will admit that my wife and I have done that same thing twice in 25 years. Hey, at least we know each other.

  5. Peggy and I have picked out the same card for each other on occasion. We like to think of it as how much we are in sync! The ritual of picking out cards is always a challenge. Peggy usually gets two. One humorous and one serious. Hard to miss that way. But ultimately, it’s what you write inside. Good thinking on ‘Let’s find the bridge!’ 🙂 –Curt

      1. Ever see the movie “Sweetland”? (Great movie) There’s a scene where the farmer dances in a field under a clear blue sky, with his mail-order bride-to-be (she’s tryng to teach him to waltz). Pretty much describes how their marriage will be…would that fit?
        Great movie, by the way. Highly recommend!

  6. “It’s not too awful” – Nothing says success quite like that.

    Giving the same card is good in so many ways. But, it begs the question: Which is the greater marital faux pas, giving you spouse that is marginally less wonderful as the one they gave you, or giving them a card that is significantly nicer than the one they gave you?

  7. My husband always waits until the last minute, he will get a kick out of your post. One year I got an anniversary card “From your Wife”. He has gotten much better about actually reading the sentiment before buying it! 😊

    1. To my horror, I realized that the first card I picked out was a sympathy card. What followed was a long internal debate over whether to give it to her anyway. It certainly was accurate, if not appropriate.

  8. Quickie Mart aside.. I think that’s perfect!
    And just so you know? My husband bought me the same birthday card 3 years in a row. It was an awful thing with a pop out wife in a negligee, but he’s nothing if not consistent.

      1. Oh yes, she was on this little spring like thing that shook when you opened the card. It was beyond revolting once, no less 3 times straight.
        And I’m afraid you’re out of luck. The gift store where he bought them went out of business 2 years ago. I can’t say as I’m surprised….

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