I couldn't believe that I let it happen again. There I was, fresh off a red-eye flight, frantically searching the greeting card aisle for the dreaded early May trifecta: an anniversary card, a Mother's Day card for my mom, and a Mother's Day card for my wife from the kids.
While I've come to appreciate writing by hand again, shopping for greeting cards remains an extremely frustrating experience. Most of the designs and messages are unappealing to me and play to the extremes (e.g., over-the-top sentimentality, overly religious, crass humor, etc.) The experience generally ends with spending too much money for a low quality product that neither I nor the recipient likes very much.
Mike Dudek has a great post over at The Clicky Post about how his in-laws have replaced card exchanges with a special journal that they both make entries into to mark special occasions. I absolutely love this idea. There is something wonderful about eliminating all of the noise, commercialism, and obligation of greeting cards in favor of something more meaningful and lasting.
However, I've decided to overcome my frustration in a different way. I'm rebooting my relationship with greeting cards.
My wife's birthday is in late May, so I resolved to get out in front on greeting cards this time around. I spent a little time browsing around on Etsy and found some great letterpress cards from independent designer/printers. I clicked to buy and within a few days (and well ahead of my wife's birthday) both arrived in the mail.
Both cards are hand crafted with high quality paper and have the "perfect imperfection" that only a letterpress can deliver. The messages on the front are nothing too deep, but they are direct hits for my wife's interests and personality. It will be obvious to her that more than 90 seconds of thought and care went into their selection. The insides are blank, so my sons and I can furnish our own sentiments.
With the cards in hand well ahead of time, I found a rare quiet moment to write out a message to my wife, a departure my usual last minute scribbles. I even serendipitously discovered that the Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin that that I already had a fountain pen inked up with was a perfect match for one of the cards.
My total cost, including shipping from multiple sellers, was $13.49. This is by no means inexpensive, but it's also not significantly more than the pharmacy card aisle seems to take me for every time. It also feels great to support the efforts of some fellow paper lovers in a small way.
I expect that I'll use Etsy and similar online markets regularly in the future. However, I also made a list of other cards I know I will need in the next six months in my daily carry memo book book. This way, my frequent wanderings into stationary stores will have greater purpose. (Bonus!)
I realize that none of this is rocket science. It's the same "get your act together and stop waiting until the last minute" story that applies to most things in life. However, whenever you can trick you brain into turning something you dread into something you enjoy, it's a win.