The only thing that comes even close to shopping for a good book, is shopping for a greeting card.  I love shopping for the perfect card! But, if that same card needs to make it to a person that lives elsewhere, getting the card into those funny looking metal boxes at the end of the block is a problem. Darn it! All of the work and pleasure of shopping for the card, sometimes ends up trapped in the great abyss of my underwear drawer (lovely visual for you readers). Don’t you think this kinda defeats the joy and pleasure that comes from picking out the perfect greeting card?

Don’t you just love being in that ocean of greeting cards? I sure do. I spot it! That image, sketch, photograph, or top word.  I reach, pulling the card free from its slot.  I study the images and words on the front. With great anticipation and hope, I creak open the face of the card, gazing at the script beneath it. Ahhhh! Beautiful (or Ahhh crap, if it’s no good). Words, so perfectly scribed, expressing a sentiment in a way that you only wished you could on your own. Why is it we look for our deepest expressions to come out of a card, and not out of our mouth? For me, sometimes I think I’m a clumsy speaker, or I’m too shy (yes, it does happen), or I’m just too darn proud to speak “that way”.

You know, I go through a very different experience when picking out funny cards.  I don’t get the same kind of pay-off. There is less pride in finding the funny card. It’s a real balance between finding the right pictures or animations, along with words and punch lines that are legitimately funny and not just corny. Don’t you hate it when you’re looking for a funny card – but the “writer” has screwed it up with TOO MANY words?  I hate that! I might fall in love with the picture/image, the words on the front have me hooked….then I open it up….and the writing goes on forever! Dangit! Why do they do that?

For me, picking out a card for any one person in my life brings a unique set of criteria with each experience.  I think I’d be able to create a flow chart to show the decision points I go through when shopping for this person, or that person. It starts out like this, “I need a card for Susan, so I’m going to head over to the drug store.”  Other times it starts out like this, “Oh Mother’s Day is coming, I’m going to go to Hallmark in the mall tomorrow.”  You see? Who I am shopping for actually determines WHERE I will go to search for the card. All of the decisions from that point on, depends on the following: the receiver’s personality, the reason I have decided to give the person a card, deciding on the mood or tone that I am comfortable with for that person and purpose, and how I want the person to feel after receiving and reading the card.

You know what though? Some of my favourite card selections have been the “blank inside” cards.  This is not because I’m a creative writing genius. Sometimes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I’d like to share my favourite ever, card selection experience.

When I told my husband that we were expecting our first child, here is how it went.  I had just completed the wonderful pee test and got the marvelous news! My husband went into the shower.  I immediately raced to the nearby drug store and began my search for the perfect card.  I spotted it from the ground, up high with the “Blank Inside” insignia behind it. I stared at the perfect photograph of the cutest smiling baby on the front.  I grabbed it and went to the cash out. I knew I would come up with an epic way to announce the news. I bought the cards and raced out to the car.  When inside, I opened up the card and then realized I had nothing to write with. Dangit!  I went back into the drug store, bought my favourite BIC Profile pen (I have a thing about “nice” pens too), and raced out.  I was sweating, my heart was racing like a Formula One car. I dove into the car again and got back to it.  I stopped to think. Hmm. So many ideas raced in my head.  This card was critical.   It would live on in the family archives, like an ancient relic lives underground for centuries. As I stared at the blank, white space, I visualized many lines that would vandalize the spot. Simplicity.  I decided to make it simple.  I wrote, “I hope you and mommy pick out a really great name for me. See you soon.  Forever yours, Baby.”  Well, I made it home.  My husband was out of the shower and was quite puzzled by my absence, and could see the shock and stress in my eyes. I thrust the card forward almost putting it through his chest.  As he tore along the top, my palms were sweating, my mouth dried out, and I ….stopped breathing. I’ll never forget the look on his face when I realized he understood my message.  Pure joy! It is a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Special occasions are actually my LEAST favourite purpose for card shopping. Instead, I love to go card hunting for thank yous, get well, friendship, love, motivation/inspiration, and my favourite – no reason at all. Some of my best gift card selections happen when I’m looking for a card for one purpose, but come across a card that is perfect for a special person in my life and it hits me that I must get this card for them.  These are also the cards that have often had the strongest impact on the receiver.

Wow! I bet some of you never, ever realized that shopping for gift cards could be such a…..sport.  Well, leave it to me to turn one of life’s little moments into, sport. I’m just that kinda gal. The hiccups come, when I just can’t find a card that “fits” the situation.  Now that is when I have to get the creative juices flowing.

So, do you love to go card shopping?

Or, do you hate to go card shopping?

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