Happy birthday, [insert relationship here]

Anya is sick, but may be well enough to attend a friend’s birthday party tomorrow, so I ventured out in the icy rain to buy the child a card. (We have the present already, but forgot the card.) And it was so hard. I’ve purchased birthday cards for family, for friends, for my children, for acquaintances, but never for a child from another child. Would a child buy a card for another child that states the age that child is turning? No. Would a child buy another child a card calling her a princess? Not likely.

That eliminated the entire kids’ section.

Almost all of the not-kid cards mentioned womanhood, alcohol, old age, farts, or boobs. Those that didn’t were *very* specific about the recipient or giver. To: Mother, daughter, aunt, niece, grandma, sister. From: Sister/brother/mother/grandma/all of us. My selection at the local Walgreen’s thus dwindled to two cards I considered appropriate that might also appeal to 7-year-olds. I bought the one with the most glitter.

I thought this was going to be an easy purchase. I underestimated how specific greeting cards are. Were they always this way? Why are they this way? Is it for the convenience of the giver — to narrow down the selection, thus making the card aisle less intimidating? Is it somehow more personal if a store-bought card acknowledges the relationship between the giver and recipient?

It feels very preachy to me. Like social media preachy: Smile more, worry less. Live, laugh, love. Savor the moment. Give experiences, not things. You know. You have social media too. Well, this feels like that. No longer can we give a greeting card without getting super personal. “Happy 55th birthday, Second Cousin Twice Removed!” “You’re 88 years young, Step-Grandmother!” “Happy 8th birthday, Daughter of My College Roommate!” Anything less than utter accuracy is intolerable.

Or perhaps my local Walgreen’s is simply not a good barometer of the available pool of greeting cards. That’s also a possibility.


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