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Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy 12th!

for my love. . .
Last week was our (my wife's and mine) 12th anniversary.  So much was happening that we, by almost unspoken mutual agreement, put it off, electing instead to celebrate it this week.  That was a mistake, I think.  There's so much important stuff that's going on in our lives and lives of our family and friends, but I think I probably should have drawn some sort of line in the sand. . . or planted my staff on the rock and roared to the Balrog of impending family business, "You shall not pass!!" and made plans to take my wife out for dinner and exchange cards, etc.  I think the mistake that we made was not so much that we focused on others, but that we failed to prioritize ourselves as well.  At all. 

So this week we'll do our annual "go out to an awesome dinner" anniversary, and hit the reset button to some extent, and have another great talk (we always do our best talking when our brains are slightly addled on wine flight samplers and our stomachs are distended by difficult to pronounce foods).  But last week was Anniversary Card Buying.

And don't get me wrong. . . I don't dislike giving my wife an anniversary card.  I understand the necessity of restating what I consider to be understood (I love you, I'm thankful for you, I need you, etc) but, while I have no problem giving my wife a card, I dislike shopping for that card.

Because anniversary cards suck.  The challenge of the greeting card industry in general is that they are presuming to speak to your loved one on your behalf.  I've made my peace with the concept of expressions of love by proxy, but. . . I have to sift through a lot of greeting cards in order to get to one that sounds like something I would say.

One of the cards I read last week leaps to mind.  It took the greeting card lover-by-proxy mission statement a step too far and actually used the first person narrative.  I didn't so much mind the sentiment itself as much as the fact that it presumed to actually attribute to me things that I'd never expressed or considered.  I'll quote it, though I can't actually remember it word for word, "Happy You and Me day" it said, I opened the card, because so far I was okay with it.  "That's what I always think of it as, you and me day.  Because. . . " etc.  That's actually not what I always think of it as, and I, and maybe this sounds silly, felt vaguely insulted and offended by the greeting card taking that sort of liberty with my feelings/expressions.  I put it back.  It wasn't me talking, but it was saying it was.  It presumed too much, that card.

As I riffled through the cards, I reaffirmed how few cards I found that satisfactorily expressed me as I wished myself to be expressed by proxy.  Here are my rules for greeting card purchase:

1)  Start with the classy/pretty cards.  Not too frilly, not too lacy, not to busy or too loud.  Nice simple colors/patterns on pretty paper. . . start opening these in order from most to least tasteful.
2)  What's the message? 
  • Toss the religious themes. . . nobody reading this message could possibly think that card was read by me prior to purchase.  So, if it says "I thank god every night for the blessing" etc. . . it's gone.
  • Toss the overly mushy and sentimental messages.  "You have captured my heart.
    I put my hand in yours,
    and we began this
    wonderful journey called love.
    Wherever life takes us,
    the light of your smile
    will forever be my morning sun
    and the shelter of your embrace
    my heart's true home." etc.
  • Toss anything but the simplest of poetry.  If the poem is more than a few lines long I can guarantee I'm not on board, specifically if it rhymes.  These cards are often weeded out by the previous bullet point.
  • Toss anything that puts maybe too much emphasis on our love to the exclusion of the rest of the universe, "You are at the heart of all that is good and happy and meaningful in my life."  The next line might just as well say, "and if i ever lost you, your body wouldn't have a chance to get cold before I killed myself out of sorrow". . . pass.
  • Sort through the remaining messages, "The first time I looked into your eyes, I knew it was happily ever after."  That's not bad. . . but it's also not true.  The first time I looked into her eyes I had already had three or four beers and was trying to think of some way to ditch my friend and get a ride home with her.  And while to me (at 24) there was a 'version' of happily ever after involved, that's not what the card meant, and she'd have known it!
3)  Find the simple, honest message on the prettiest card, and purchase it.
4)  Insert mush.  This, above all else, is why I detest the annual card-passing ceremony.  Because my cards don't have proxy mush that doesn't sound like me, but instead have simple messages (by proxy) embellished with my hand-written personal mush. . . I don't want her mother reading them.  I don't want her friends reading them.  They're written for her.  Privately for her.  I'm not particular big on "sharing" emotionally in the first place!  Sorry. . . did I just interject personal baggage into this?  Yeah, I don't like when people pass cards around at a party or gathering.  Your card is for him or her or us, and those intended should read it. . . it's nobody else's business.

So last week I bought my card and embellished it with mush.  This year's mush said essentially (because it's actually nobody's damn business but hers and mine, but I can hand out the essentuals) that she's a higher priority to me and my life than we exhibited over the course of our actual anniversary, and that I'm going to try harder to make sure we reprioritize "us" amidst all the festivities involving "them".  (Where "them" means. . . everyone else in the world, kids going to games, kids going to kindergarten, relatives getting married, relatives moving their houses, relatives putting on charities).  And let me further soften it to say. . . all that stuff I just mentioned in parentheses is EXTREMELY important to not just her, and not just me, but US. . . but not to the EXCLUSION of us. 

Anyway. . . Happy Belated Anniversary to us.  From me!


  1. I'm no scientist but I'm pretty sure there's no such thing as proxy mush