Last Monday was my birthday, and I am now closer in age to 50 than I am 21. I know, SHOCKING! Anyway, I woke up and it was like any other day – not even a well wish from my husband who I had stupidly decided to pick a fight with the night before (his fault though).
Word of warning: When you pick a fight with your partner on the eve of your birthday, don’t expect to get inundated with gifts and kind words and birthday kisses. Eight hours sleep won’t make them forget you called them a thoughtless bonehead and then listed all the ways they have proven this fact in the last six months…..
So at about 11.30am following my morning routine with my toddler, I was pleasantly surprised when he arrived home with gifts (from him and my daughter) and a vanilla slice from the best café in Darwin. Then I was surprised again when (probably because we had visitors), I had the long lost experience of blowing candles out on a cake that night after the best pizza ever for dinner.
But mostly I was surprised by the gifts.I’ve shared my sentiments on gift giving here, and included my husband’s philosophy on gift giving, which is: Why bother!!
Want an example? (And trust me, he’s so blasé about it… in fact practically proud of his stance on gift giving that he would not mind, let alone be humiliated, that I share this snippet with the on-line world…) Last Mother’s Day I woke up to nothing except a mumbled “Happy Mother’s Day” whilst still waking up in bed. There’s a good chance he considered that, combined with placing his hand on my boob, foreplay. But anyway….
As the morning progressed I realised there was nothing more coming. No invitation to breakfast, no breakfast in bed, no gifts, no flowers, no chocolates, nothing. By 10am when I realised Macca’s breakfast would be ending in half an hour, I ordered him to drive to McDonald’s and get me some Hotcakes. Stat.
“Why?” was his response.
“Well because it’s mother’s day and you haven’t bought me anything!”
“You’re not my mother!” he said.
(SIGH…. ) “NO but I’m the mother of your only daughter!!!”
“I know, and I can’t believe how stingy she was to not get you anything!” he said, now giggling.
At the time my daughter was 19 months old. And as you can see my husband places no value on thinking about, then purchasing and wrapping a gift. I will say he did EVERYTHING that day. The only fingers I lifted were the ones used to eat my hotcakes, (yes I got them) and maybe a couple earlier on behind his back….
So you can imagine my surprise when for my birthday last week I actually got gifts – wrapped and everything. And they weren’t bad gifts either. Pretty good. In fact I can only fault him in one area – and this is really the crux of my issue. NO BIRTHDAY CARD!
But how can I be upset when NOBODY gave me cards. Except my grandmothers. And that’s saying everything. Because my grandmothers don’t have mobile phones to text me. And they’re not on Facebook or twitter to send me a message.
And this is why gift cards have become benign.
Growing up, I would start getting cards a few days before the big day. I’d display them on the shelf in the lounge room where everyone could see. Pretty cards or cards from people I loved most would have prime position on the shelf. On the actual day, the shelf would be so crammed with cards; I’d struggle to fit them all on so the front was displayed. And then in the days that followed there’s undoubtedly be a few more.
Perhaps this is where I got the idea that birthdays go for a week. Because when you’re young – they really do!
And this morning, a week after my birthday, I took down the 3 birthday cards that I have. I’ll keep them. I keep all my cards. Sentimental? Yes. Hoarder? Possibly. But do I ever pull them out to read? Can’t say I do.
Because that would involve rummaging through boxes and bags to find them and that’s too hard. And yet how easy is it for me to go onto Facebook and look through older posts to see the many lovely and thoughtful wishes I received on my birthday from friends and family. SO easy! And how much profit did Australia Post make from that? Niente!
So my prediction is that greeting cards will become a thing of the past. In fact by the time my generation are over 75 years old (and that’s still ages away OKAY….) The shelves reserved for greeting cards will be taken over by a new type of computer program. It will be brilliant because it will download onto your phone or computer and remember birthdays and prompt you to type in a message 3 days before, which you can accompany with a little picture, and on that day it will automatically send it to the person, and that will be it.
Actually there’s probably something like that already. And the really good thing about it is you don’t have to leave the house, and stand in front of a card shelf for ages trying to work out if that’s too cheesy, or too rude, or too sappy to send. And you don’t have that issue where you like the picture, but not the words. Like the card I wanted to buy for my father in law’s 60th which had a picture of an old man on a bike and a quote from George Burns about getting older. And then inside it read, “After all these years, no matter how old… I still love you.”
Despite all this, I’m still a loyal devotee to the gift card. Perhaps not for all occasions, but definitely for some. Like weddings, new babies and christenings, and any other occasion where you want to write more than one paragraph or you need somewhere to stash the gift voucher.
What I doubt I’ll see in the future is love letters and romantic gift cards that say I love you. My first serious boyfriend sent me one practically every week. I still have them somewhere. One day I’ll show my kids. I’ll relive memories of young love and of stupid love. And I’ll tell them all about the days before mobile phones and hand-held computer software and how one particular boyfriend drove all the way to my house to hand deliver a card and a red rose, and simply handed them to me then walked away… and they’ll be amazed.
“Wow,” they’ll say. “What a waste of fossil fuel. What a waste of paper!”