Wow! For the first time this year, my mom, who lives in Philadelphia, didn’t bitch me out for not sending her a Christmas card! Kool! That must mean things are looking up for me! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Background: This past September, my mom had her 93rd birthday. I called her to give my heart-felt birthday greeting. In that call I told her that I did not forget to send her a card. I explained that I simply was saving money – considering that I had been on a tight budget in recent years. She said, “Well, you could have gone to the Dollar Store and picked out a card, son.” I laughed and simply said, “Yes Mom, I could have done that but I preferred to simply call and talk to you, which I think is better than any card I could have sent.” When that wasn’t enough for her, I told her that with certain exceptions (noted below), I had decided to no longer buy and send cards to anyone. When she asked why, I gave her my detailed reasons (noted below). At the time of that discussion, I wasn’t sure if my mom liked my reasons. I recall her giving me some weak “ok” as she quickly changed the subject to other things. I know there are a few – perhaps many of you reading this who might be thinking that I was being cheap or somehow disrespectful towards my mom for not buying her a birthday card. Frankly, I don’t care what you think. She’s not your mom. You don’t know shit about her, about me or our relationship therefore, save your judgments! It may further “please” some of you readers to know that not only did I not send my mother – or anyone else a birthday card this year, I also did not send out Thanksgiving or Christmas cards!
After speaking to mom yesterday it dawned on me that she never said a word about not getting a Christmas card from me. I can only guess that the reasons I gave her four months ago finally sunk in! Regardless of what anyone thinks, my adopted reasoning regarding the buying and sending of holiday, birthday or special event greeting cards is simply this:
- If making a personal visit is not an option, it’s always less expensive to call and talk to mom – or any relative or dear friend, by landline or cellular phone. Since I have hundreds, if not thousands of minutes saved on my cellular account I don’t ever think about cell minutes when talking on my cell phone.
- A phone call is by far, cheaper than driving to a store.
- Per gallon, gasoline costs as much, if not more than, the price of the average greeting card.
- Except for those “Dollar Stores” where everything that is not edible costs only a dollar – plus sales tax (food and drink sold there also cost a dollar but is sales tax-free here in Michigan), the average greeting card costs anywhere between $3 or $6 or more – depending on the size and design of the card.
- Once I arrive at the store, I must take time to choose a card, then buy and pay sales tax on that card.
**NOTE: You incur more personal time and gas expense if you don’t find a card you like in the first store you visit and have to go elsewhere!
- Next, I have to locate and drive to the nearest post office – since mailboxes – like payphones, have become scarce in the last ten years.
- Once at the post office, I must stand in line to buy a damn stamp. I don’t have stamps at home because I rarely mail anything anymore. If I need to send a letter, card or package, I’ll need to make sure those things have sufficient postage otherwise I risk having them returned by the post office. When it comes to mailing anything, nothing pisses off an American than getting a letter, card or package returned by the post office due to insufficient postage! The price of postage changes often but I rarely, if ever follow that sort of thing because, as I just said, I rarely mail anything!
- The drive home from the post office also involves gas costs.
- Mailing a greeting card – or ANYTHING for that matter, can often cause one to have a certain amount of stress (depending on what was mailed) in wondering if that card or item will arrive at the correct address, on time and intact – if it arrives anyplace at all.
- Regardless of what the United States Post Office (USPS), Federal Express (FedEx), United Parcel Service (UPS) and their kind advertise in your face with a smile, nothing that leaves your hands which is given to another pair of hands, no…make that SEVERAL pairs of human hands and some computerized machinery, is ever realistically guaranteed an accurate and safe delivery to its destination.
I began the practice of not buying and sending greeting cards in favor of placing phone calls to people I’m close to and care deeply about almost a year ago. Again, there are exceptions. Some of those would be:
- people who are deaf or who have poor hearing;
- people who are disabled, destitute or who for some reason, cannot afford a telephone or cell phone;
- persons incarcerated;
- people in the military who are deployed at sea or in the desert somewhere overseas.
I believe that if possible, a simple phone call to exchange familiar and loving voices will always beat getting and looking at a cold piece of colorful hard paper. Normally, that card will sit on the mantelpiece of someone’s home, on the desk of someone’s office, taped to the wall of someone’s locker or stuck in some book somewhere. That card, which often will contain words which aren’t mine/yours, will later be taken down by the recipient, shoved in some drawer or cabinet and forgotten about. Let’s just be real about that! However, the memory of a personal visit or phone call and the conversation held with the person to whom you would have otherwise sent a card, will far outlast the memory of some dry old card or the picture or words within it.
There is always a method to my reasoning, even if people disagree with it. (Again, I don’t care or give a fuck). I’m confident…no, I’m cocky enough to believe that at some point, my logic will sink in to those who hear it or read it…just like it did with my dear mother!