Greetings (Town Crier, July 2013)
As I was doing my summer closet cleaning, a box fell off the topshelf and spilled its contents on the floor of the closet. I thought “Aha! Something I haven’t opened for at least a year – probably should be thrown out right away!” I stooped to pick up the spill. It was my collection of greeting cards received over… how many years?
The first I picked up was a handmade card with a picture of a girl drawn by a very young person. Inside was a greeting from the family which had just purchased the house across the street from us, introducing themselves and their three daughters and saying that they were “looking forward to being our neighbors for many years.” They were wonderful neighbors for almost five years; they moved last week.
The second was a birthday card featuring a couple of martini glasses with sparkly olives on the cover. It was from my cousin and her husband. They did meet in a bar, but he helped her to beat her alcoholism after they married, and she has been sober for decades. Odd to see her name on a liquor-flavored card!
The third I picked up was a form card from a group with which I had participated in a long-term health study after my bout with cancer. It included a recipe for a healthy protein-rich, minimal sugar birthday cake which I had always meant to try.
The fourth was a snarky birthday card from my brother and his wife. Judging from the price of the card listed on the back, this was sent very early in their marriage. Before their marriage, he usually forgot my birthday entirely. Under his wife’s influence, the cards have become less snarky over the years.
The fifth was a custom card generated on a computer. It was from my mother, who had been the first in our family to become computer literate, and for years had created all her birthday cards and Christmas cards on her beloved Mac.
The sixth was simply a piece of blue paper folded over. On it is written in an unfamiliar hand “Happy Birthday Mom” and the names of my two sons. There is a splatter of what looks like pine sap on the upper corner. I remember how my kids conspired to surprise me with flowers on my birthday that year. My husband and I had gone camping in the remote Anderson Valley. The kids managed to find a part-time florist in Booneville who made a bouquet of garden flowers with an impromptu card and delivered them to our tent site in her pickup truck.
I guess I won’t be able to throw this box out right away after all.