Saturday, December 1, 2007


Today is my older sister’s birthday. She turns 52. I need to remember to send her a greeting. I’ll email it; we’ve all pretty much settled down to the ultra-last-minute email for birthday greetings in my family these days.

And really, who wants birthday cards hanging around? If you’re anything like me, you read them (when they arrive at all) with a swift mental “thanks for remembering;” you note to yourself that the card’s canned joke (or worse, “sentiment”) is either Dixie®-Cup camp or saccharine. If it’s from older generation family you shake it open upon first inspection, and look for any cash that might fall out. You toss the card on your current pile of things you know you should file or read or give money for, or something. The card gets buried a few levels down and you notice it one day, re-read it and smile. And then you toss it in the trash.

Emails are much more efficient and don’t add to land fills (I’m sure moldering birthday cards must account for something on the order of 0.002 percent of the annual American refuse output). I’m doing my small part. Each card not sent, may add one one-hundredth of a second to humankind’s longevity.

Or some such.

But there are cards worth getting. I have one on the fridge that my aunt sent years ago. It shows a ponderous, but none too bright, cowboy on horseback with the sky as backdrop. He’s saying to himself (and to the sky), “But what if everybody does Wang Chung tonight? Who’s gonna look after the herd then?” On the back of the card my aunt wrote, “What in the world is Wang Chung?”

And there’s a card Bonnie got from her sister several years back. I’ve seen it on her dresser ever since. It’s of a young girl, maybe seven, with red shorts, sitting on steps of a house. It makes me think of how Bonnie would have looked at that age. I think it does for her as well, and I think that’s why she keeps it; her sister connected with her when she gave her that card.

And these cards, now that I think of it, are the exceptions that prove the rule. They will forever be enshrined, on a refrigerator, on a dresser top, or even in a drawer. They will find their way to a landfill only once mankind has learned balance. One hopes.

Happy Birthday, Mary.


mele said...

Aahhh, but you see, if you are never sent any cards then you never have the chance to find those one in a hundred that you do want to grace your refrigerator, your desk or your dresser until man has indeed achieved balance.

However, being wished a Happy Birthday is nice and welcome in any form.

Love, the Illustrious Mary

Yar said...

I like that you sent this as Mele. I was reading John's wonderful "Letters from Home" tonight, and found Mom calling you that in a letter to Grandma in the summer of '64.

Beth said...

ahhhhh what a sweet post.
what is that wang thing btw?

Shae said...

Years ago I found a greeting card for my Friend Lonnie that he has kept and we have laughed about many times since. It was black and white and showed a photo of a filthy little kid with his brows knitted in extreme concentration, and it said, "he had only one idea, and that was wrong. - Benjamin Disraeli."

Just this year I've found a use for old mediocre Christmas cards -- not sure whether or not it would translate to birthday cards. I made new cards from collages of the old ones, and they are quite funny looking - baby Jesus next to a garish santa, or victorian people near a giant kitten in a santa's hat. I'll probably scan them and put them on my blog once they are safely mailed.