Every time a birthday rolls around I have to go to the grocery store to pick out a card. And every time I enter the aisle with the birthday cards I immediately feel apprehensive. As soon as I start looking at the cards with the thought “Which one is the best one to get?” memories come flooding back. I remember being much younger and scouring for a birthday card or a Mother’s day card with my father. I remember reading colorful card after colorful card, trying to find the right one, not because the message on the inside wasn’t good enough, but because the message inside did not describe my mother at all. Every card I read I put back because I thought it was untruthful to get it.
I remember turning to my father and saying “It’s really hard to choose a card when none of them describe mom. Whichever one I get I feel like it’s a lie to get it.” Knowing that my mother would receive my card and read the cherry, heartfelt message inside made me angry. Whatever the card said I never agreed with, because I never felt that “I am lucky to be able to call you my mother,” or “You bring so much joy to those around you.” I had a bad relationship with my mother for years growing up, and for years I struggled during every celebration to find a card I could deal with.
A card seems like such an insignificant detail, but it turns out to be a big deal when you hate your mother. How can you feel one way and yet give someone so close to you a card that declares a bunch of happiness that you don’t feel? That is something that I dealt with for a long time.
I find myself thinking how silly something as trivial as a card could scar me so deeply. I thought about it, and though a card is just a folded piece of cardstock with some writing inside, it’s what the card represents. A card expresses your feelings and wishes. It expresses your love towards that special person.
I have trouble finding a card for my mother still, but it’s for a different reason. It takes a while to find a card that expresses accurately how I feel. But when I find that card, I smile inwardly to myself. I do this because I found a card that says just what I feel. Sometimes if I’m feeling especially emotional that day, I tear up as I read the message, knowing it fits my mother to a tee.
A couple of years ago my mother and I shared a very special conversation, the kind you usually find on television or in movies. It ended in understanding, tears, and hugs. Over time we mended our relationship and I could finally say “I love my mom.” With this happy awakening, I looked forward to birthday’s and Mother’s days. I searched to find something that would make her happy and show her how much she meant to me. And though I still feel that flutter of apprehension when I enter the birthday card aisle, I know it’s just a ripple from days gone by.
Hallmark got it right with those cheesy birthday cards. A simple message inside a piece of folded card stock can mean more than you think.