I’ve never been one for birthday cards. Because I was an English major, I’m pretty good at reading between the lines, and I’m pretty sure I know what every birthday card actually says, as summarized below:[what the card says] “Happy Birthday!” *hearts* *flowers* *rainbows* *butterflies* [what the card actually says] “10 minutes ago I remembered that I meant to get you a birthday card, so I quick looked for one that wasn’t completely trite and somehow spent a substantial amount of money for a printed version of a generic sentiment you probably didn’t need in writing, and also you now have to read the card, or at least spend the appropriate amount of time staring at the card until it seems like you actually read it, or send me a message to let me know you received said card, because apparently cards are really important (oh wait).” *outdated social conventions* *overpriced glorified construction paper* *forced laughter*
Much like Ron Swanson, I believed that birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.
And if Hallmark sells it, I’m probably not interested.
But this year was different.
For me, this was a great year for birthday cards.
First, the cards themselves:
“Yappy Birthday to Yooou!” (Courtesy of Snoopy, obviously)
“Gangsta rap is where it’s at.” (Courtesy of Snoop Dog, obviously)
“Just wanted to ‘TOAST’ you on your special day!” (There were two pieces of toasted bread depicted on this card. Gets me every time.)
Then, the added messages from friends and family:
“I bet you love being older—because the older you get the more nostalgic you can be!” This is correct. I am already excited to talk wistfully about “the 20s” when I’m old. No, not my 20s, but the 2020s, which I realize haven’t happened yet. But they will. And they will be awesome.
“From the bottom of my heart I apologize for my awkward sentence structure and for starting the previous sentence with the word ‘and.’” Proof that sometimes the only thing better than good sentence structure is the apology that can come with poor sentence structure.
“Your kindness melts me, your wit makes me laugh (24/7), and your wisdom inspires me. Thank you for being you.” *crying*
“Happy 23rd birthday, ya old lady my fine friend.” Perhaps both? Yes. Definitely hopefully both.
“We’re so glad that you’re joining the family.” Me too.
And those are just a few of the highlights. There was also an amazing card from my grandma, who underlined the printed words that really resonated with her and then commented directly on those words—scribbled underneath “I’m so grateful to have you as a granddaughter” was “yes I am.” She also signs all of her cards with “xoxo Grandma,” so I’m pretty sure she’s actually Gossip Girl.
This year made me want to send out thank you cards for the fantastic birthday cards. They made me feel loved and appreciated, they made me (genuinely) laugh, and most importantly, they gave me something tangible to hold onto to remind of the love and the laughs, at least for a little while (how long are you supposed to keep old birthday cards? Forever? Done).
For those of you who are in the habit of card-giving, keep up the good work. Let me join your ranks and you won’t be sorry.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.