The U.S. government’s recent studies concluded that women purchase 85 to 90 percent of all greeting cards. How many thousands that report cost, no one is saying. Uncle Sam could have asked any mall shopper and received the same information for free. But we women consider the research money well spent … because we like to be proven right.
Let’s discuss the origins of these fascinating communication tools. The Chinese sent Happy New Year cards centuries ago. Apparently, the Egyptians also shared in the ancient greeting card market. I find elegant Oriental characters and pictures easier to imagine than a card containing hieroglyphics. Gushy sentiments conveyed by zoned-out, staring people and creepy birds and snakes? Egyptians no doubt could distinguish between “I love you madly” and “Death to you, neighbor, and your loud 2 a.m. parties,” but I would find it challenging.
With polygamy the norm among ancient families, spending statistics might have been reversed: perhaps men spent more on cards than women. Take, for example, King Solomon, who boasted 700 wives. Every day was his anniversary.
No records have survived to tell us how much Solomon, Confucius or Cleopatra paid for a card, but I’ll bet contemporary consumers shell out more. Gone are the days when we “just bought a card” to commemorate an occasion. Today, it often proves cheaper to “just buy a gift.”
Craftsy folks have returned to creating handmade cards. Recipients of these works of art ponder how special they make them feel — and suffer intense guilt if they dare toss them. (The cards, not the givers.)
No grandmother can dispose of a card sporting a pink seven-legged puppy and two purple Doritos that states, “Gadma U nice.” My current grandkid card count is 937. I’m thinking of building an addition to house my collection. Or at least, adding another refrigerator or two.
However, the following are greeting cards I would rather not receive:
- Thoughts of you . . . make me want to leave the country.
- Congratulations … We heard you’re expecting twins!
When illness strikes, I don’t want cheery thoughts. What I’d really like: “Enclosed is an official edict from God commanding you to stay in bed three days, during which no one is allowed to ask you about dinner.”
Most women would treasure Mother’s Day cards with similar language: “Mom, I love you enough to clean bathrooms.” Or, “To the perfect mother of my children: you have not, do not, and never will look fat.”
Brace yourself: I am about the reveal the ultimate romantic card that knows no gender prejudices, covers every occasion, and never becomes obsolete.
- one piece of paper, folded in half.
- one pen (or crayon if the kids have absconded with all your pens)
Front sentiment: I love you.
Inside sentiment: I’m sorry. You were right.
Sign your name.
What card would you like most to receive?