If you're like me, the days before any special occasion or holiday you find yourself scrambling through the greeting card section at the closest Target or Walgreens or [insert local grocery store] looking for just the right card for the person you love.
It's rare you wind up with a card you feel is just right. It's rare the card, if you find it, will cost you less than $6.99.
But, here's something I've learned over the years, which has made the process of buying greeting cards much more tolerable for me and hopefully more meaningful for the people I give them to. The card doesn't matter. The flowers and rainbows and cutesy animals printed on the front. The words written by some copywriter at Hallmark. These will all be forgotten.
Because the card is just a vehicle.
What matters are the words written in ink around the printed ones. They are the words meant just for them. That no one else could write except you.
For a time, I wrote Haley cards that included a cut-out piece of paper with a quote from some famous author. Something like this excerpt from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel Tender is the Night.
I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything.
I love the poetry of quotes written by people who are much better with words than I am. But, I've also realized this: Haley doesn't really care about what famous people have to say about love. She wants my words, not theirs.
Then I started to include my own poems: printed on card stock, written on lined paper, cut out of notebooks. Once, for Valentine's Day, I bought her a little glass bottle (think "Message in a Bottle") that I filled with cut-out pieces of paper, each wrapped delicately in red thread, with micro poems I wrote in ink on them.
So, for this holiday or the next, I suggest you do this. Buy a blank card. It can have something pretty on the front. You can go the extra mile and have a friend design something pretty for you. Then write on the inside your own words: personal, meaningful, emotional words. And see what happens.
At the very least, it might save you $6.99 on a card you didn't really like anyway.