Inspired By Neighbors or The Great Greeting Card Debate

14189_GCA_Home_HeaderYesterday I stumbled across this wonderful post about why we don’t send greeting cards as often and how social media may be part of the reason why.  Never one to let a cultural question die, I evaluated my own personal stance (don’t laugh cause I totally have one) and commented.  I fear I may have come off a bit aggressive or at least kind of an anti-greeting card freak.  Please allow me to explain.

In my comments I explained that my husband have negotiated (the use of that word is deliberate) the following occasions where I will buy and send greeting cards:

1) Birthday (in lieu of a gift, the cash or gift card needs to go somewhere) but if you’re getting a present… no card for you.
2) Wedding *see above gift stipulation
3) Sympathy
4) Thank you
5) Christmas/Festivus/Hanukkah/Kwanza * see above gift stipulation
6) Individual ‘personal’ holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Wedding Anniversary)
7) Valentine’s Day (significant other and/or your child)

I come from a long line of letter writers, of card senders…  BUT we are reasonable about it.  I have the card my great grandmother sent my folks when they adopted me and birthday cards from relatives who aren’t around anymore (including a plain white envelope with my uncle’s handwritten “because you are my favorite niece” and a rubber cockroach inside). We just don’t send them for EVERYTHING.

I married into a lovely family from the Midwest who sends (and expects in return) 3 times the normal amount of greeting cards.  I neither expect them, nor am I planning to set up some kind of storage for these cards that on the off chance my in-laws will come to visit and will demand to see where we have stored the last 10 years of anniversary, Valentine’s Day and Halloween cards they have sent us.  When I receive a Valentine’s Day card from my Mother-in-law, am I expected to reciprocate?  What if I don’t?  If we had kids it would be different, the kids could send cards and pictures for every holiday under the sun and that’s fine, but as adults… do our 40+ year old selves really need to send my in-laws an anniversary card? It’s their special holiday, not ours.  I never expect one on our anniversary and in truth I feel awkward when we receive one.

I think it comes down to one word.  Reciprocation.  Does the sender expect the same in return?  I admit feeling somewhat resentful for having to reciprocate something I feel is unnecessary or even wasteful.  We ALL know it’s the 4th of July, and every American knows what we celebrate…  do I need to send a card? When I don’t send one do I need to be on the receiving end of a reprimand, however gentle that may be?

Don’t get me started on my Birthmother who shows just how tech savvy she is by only ever sending e-cards.  Sadly there is no way to reply without a subscription.  Oy Vey.

12 thoughts on “Inspired By Neighbors or The Great Greeting Card Debate

  1. Myself and hubby haven’t sent each other a Valentine’s card for years, but then we have been married for 33 years. I don’t see the point. I just get annoyed at Christmas. Many years ago a Christmas card was generic, you sent them to people you don’t see much the rest of the year round and that was it. Now there’s Christmas cards for every relation under the sun. This means instead of going out getting a box of them and sending the ugly ones to people you don’t much care for you have to buy them all individually for the right person, in crowded shops, peering over people’s shoulders and risking picking up one of the millions of bugs that go round at that time of year just in time to ruin your Christmas Day. Sorry rant over, I didn’t mean to chat on so 🙂

  2. haha, I post before I think. When I say ugly ones, you know the ones I mean, when you buy a box of cards and there’s a couple in there with like a holly leaf on and a bit of glitter, so I used to send those to distant neighbours or a work colleague who I wasn’t that keen on. Holly leaves as opposed to cute little snowmen and jolly Santa Clause’s.

  3. I like the occasions you and your husband negotiated. You should stick to that. Let your in-laws over send cards if that’s what they do, but I wouldn’t feel the need to reciprocate. Chalk up the situation to a generational gap and free yourself from these worries 🙂

  4. Sigh I suffer from ‘lack of sending cards’ guilt. It was never part of my upbringing so, aside from birthdays and Christmas (for significant people), I just don’t get around to it…and then I feel guilty when I get them. Feel the need to reciprocate! Imagine my horror when the kids started bringing home cards from all their classmates at easter and christmas!

  5. I’m not much of a card-giver, but I have saved every birthday card I ever got from my grandma and great-grandma. Neither of them ever missed a birthday, and when they passed, one of the things I missed most was getting those cards. But I’m TERRIBLE at reciprocating! I’m like the worst person ever …

  6. On what you said about reciprocation– I dislike having to do things out of obligation when I think it’s unnecessary, for example, sending cards for events/happenings that don’t really have value in my life. However, I do appreciate greeting cards so much. They are personal and make you feel more appreciated than just having a quick thank you text sent to ya.

  7. I totally agree. I don’t ever mind sending a thank you card, or just a random ‘thinking of you’ type card but the obligation, ugh!

  8. I have a few letters here and there and they mean a lot when someone has passed on. I don’t think my “Happy 4th of July, I hope you have a wonderful BBQ and enjoy the fireworks, love you guys” messages will carry that same kind of sentimentality 😉

  9. I try to combat that with at least 1 card a year to someone I care about that’s a blank card with some small note sharing a memory or just sending a hug. Personally I think that means more than 100 stock birthday cards with just someone’s signature at the end.

  10. Pingback: To gift or not to gift that is the question | 1966colin

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