Declutter [An Argument For The End Of Greetings Cards]
by James L. Carey
Birthdays. Valentine’s Day. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Secretary’s Day. Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Sweetest Day. Anniversaries. Fourth of July. Congratulations. Thanks for Coming! And more and more invented holidays every year.
Are we getting the point yet? I could go on of course.
The point is this: we have been taught over the past several decades that in order to show love and appreciation, we have to buy something. The greeting card phenomena has taught us that we have to spend, at bare minimum, about $5 on every single seasonal holiday for every single relative and every single loved one.
On the other side of the equation, we, as recipients of these purchased sentiments, feel like we’re somehow diminishing the emotion behind the purchase if we throw away these mass-produced products of corporations. So we end up keeping these things, forever.
Indeed, greeting cards are among the very hardest of personal possessions for many people to let go of. It’s so sad really, to think that the hand-written letter or at least the actual mailed letter from loved ones telling each other a bit about their life and their sentiments have been replaced by a $5 piece of cardboard that you sign your name on and think that you’ve kept up your connections for another month or two.
What would we know of centuries past if all we had to base our knowledge of the personal struggles and passions of everyday people were identical mass-produced pieces of paper with merely a hand-written name on the bottom?
That’s effectively what we’ve come to. We’re becoming increasingly isolated in the digital world, and that is largely to be expected, but we can change this, this one, small thing and that could change the whole social landscape of real connections in the 21st century. We could have more than just social media connections.
A bit ostentatious? Perhaps.
The fact is that most people don’t even actually talk on the phone to each other anymore. You see relatives at Christmas and birthdays and you never learn more than “school is fine” and “work is good”.
Write. I challenge you to write to one another.
Use a pencil, a pen, a computer or a crayon, but write it. And while you’re at it, mail it. The USPS could certainly use your business and the fact of the matter is that everyone still opens the mailbox hoping against hope for something other than a credit card offer or a coupon flyer. The thought is intoxicating. Even the slightest hint at a personally addressed envelope is enough to send the heart aflutter.
Yes, we can email. It’s faster and vastly more efficient, no argument here, but let’s mail a real honest-to-dog letter on seasonal holidays, to express our love or share our dreams. Let Hallmark make money off of some other schmoes, keep yours in your pocket.
As for those of us who have a box of old greetings cards and are wondering what to do with them, I have one major suggestion: scan them.
After you do, throw them away. You have a copy after all. After a while you may ask yourself if you even need the digital version. Did you cherish the physical one? Did that Birthday card that had $10 in it from 5 years ago mean so much that you kept it on your refridgerator for half a decade? Chances are no.
If you are finding hard to do so, humbly request that the original sender of said greeting card write you a letter to replace your card. Then, let it go.
One of the easiest ways to tell if something is not that important in your life is if it has a barcode.
For those of you who may, like myself, have cards from deceased loved ones, I know how hard it must feel to imagine letting go of something that represents those precious lost ones. But, it is not them. It never was. It was something that was designed by someone else who you’ll never know and sold to a company who printed thousands of them.
Your loved one cannot be lost to you if all your possessions were swept away. You would always have a bit of them with you. I think so anyway. And remember that they wouldn’t want you live your life being tied down by the memories of the past. They would want you to move on and live your life as fully and freely as you possibly can.
Cherish people not possessions. Cherish relationships, not relics.
And write a letter instead!