Have you seen the price of greeting cards these days? Holy mother of Hallmark – how did a piece of folded cardboard with a picture of Snoopy on it come to cost upwards of nine dollars and seventy-five cents? It’s not hand-drawn; it’s not a limited edition illustration. There isn’t some amazing work of literature printed inside. Sometimes there aren’t even words…just a picture of a butterfly, or a fingerprint left behind by the last dude who read the price on the back and said, “Voicemail it is, then.”
Smart man, that one.
And I know some of these things have glitter on them, but unless that crap is made out of gold shavings or ruby dust or the free market equivalent, it can’t possibly justify the price - and the price can in no conceivable manner justify the cost. I imagine sweatshops teeming with craft-savvy kindergarteners forced to crease these dreaded harbingers of happy tidings, wondering who the hell Maxine is as they wear down their thumbnails to the point of bone exposure. In my heart, I truly hope nobody ever tells them that the day after the holiday, all of their hard work is crumpled into an approximate ball and thrown in the recycle bin. And since glitter can’t be recycled into anything these days but stripper lotion, most of the cast-off cards will be gleaned at the separating plant and pitched into the Who Put This Unrecyclable Shit in Here? bin. And everyone knows that stuff goes straight into a volcano.
The words “pitiful” and “travesty of modern working conditions” come to mind.
I myself, recognizing this unsung faction of indentured servant-workers, have been known to bundle up whatever birthday cards have come my way and toss them in a drawer for future reference. That way, they at least don’t go directly to waste on day two, and for years to come I can circle back whenever I need a pick-me-up and dwell in the sunshiny memory of happy yellow-enveloped occasions past: “Yes, Uncle Phil – I did have a rockin’ and rollin’ twelfth birthday as your Happy Days jukebox-and-Fonzie themed card suggested. Good call!”
A well thought-out sentiment rarely goes out of style.
I think the tide is starting to turn, though, and hopefully will continue to do so, what with the advent of Pinterest to realize that the main audience of expensive greeting card purchasing (hint: not guys) is also the main audience of do-it-yourself card-making (hint: also not guys). That place shows you how you can make a card out of a tin can, shoelaces and the discarded rings from Oscar Mayer bologna slices.
Can’t wait to get one of those…
For those of us who dwell closer to cheap-card-purchasing reality (hint: totally guys), it’s nice that they have a discount section now, where most of the cards that used to cost fifty cents now only cost a dollar. By comparison, you’ve now moved from the Macys of greeting cards, to somewhere between MacFrugals and the Salvation Army. The cards here are still cards; they’re just not quite all the way up to par when compared to the others. Sometimes the words are misspelled; sometimes, the little cat on the front isn’t as cute as the one on the high-end cards. And you can bet your ass you won’t be seeing ruby-and-gold-shaving glitter on these babies. You’ll be lucky if they have a glossy cover, and are written in a language you can read. And if you want poetry, you’ll have to reach a little deeper into those thus-far-greetingless pockets, friends; the closest you’ll come to seeing a rhyme in that section is when you add extra syllables to “You’re having a birthday – yay!” and stretch it into some sort of discount haiku.
I just realized how bitter I sound about this.
Possibly because of this: with the Valentine’s holiday bearing down on me, I’ve spent a total of $1,765.42 on my wife and kids’ hearts-and-unicorns cards, knowing full well no one will be circling back around for a second read of these suckers anytime soon. That money would have been better spent on loading them down with extra candy instead. At least we can all partake in that. Gathering around to read, “Hope you have a doggone grrrrreat Valentine’s day!” never seems to have the impact you think it will. But candy hits the mark every time. I’d rather watch them dive into a bag of conversation hearts myself – and that’s largely so I can catch the overspill. I should just return the cards and get more candy. And I think I will. Maybe it sounds anti-Valentine-ish, but I just can’t bring myself to foot outrageous bills for greeting cards anymore.
Outrageous dental bills instead, to repair the damage from excessive sugar consumption?
That’s just part of the game they call “being someone’s dad.”