My Grandpa Bob was a pretty amazing man. Among other things, he was a lawyer, World War II veteran, and a successful contestant on The Price Is Right. One of the most memorable things about him though was the fact that he, as the father of 14 children and the grandfather to countless grandchildren, always sent out birthday cards to everyone in his family. When I say always, I mean it. As an example, my mom used to by my grandpa boxes of greeting cards for Christmas and grandpa was happy to receive them. When I went away to college, grandpa would send the cards through my mom. He just did not miss a beat.
I’ve never been much of a birthday card sender myself since people of my generation tend to rely on social media for birthday greetings. I have, however, enjoyed writing notes to friends and professional contacts where appropriate. I think it is nice to recieve mail that isn’t a bill or some routine, administrative affair. In the world of digital media, it is refreshing to get something tangible, personal, and pleasant from a friend in the mail.
More recently, I started to love sending cards too when a shop opened up down the street from my office: Handzy. Without exaggeration, it is the cutest shop in the world. It is a small, woman-owned business which offers everything from jewelry and clothes to stationary. The experience of going into the store is fun in itself, even if you manage to resist buying something (which I usually can’t do). My favorite part, however, is wall of handmade (and often hilarious) greeting cards for every occasion or non-occasion in life. So, now, while I doubt I’ll be undertaking Grandpa Bob’s heroic efforts for birthdays, I do rather enjoy sending cards for other reasons, whether good, bad, or something in between.
Since I wasn’t much of a card-sender before, I always thought of it as doing something nice for someone else. But now that my habit is a bit more established, I think sending cards is as much for oneself as it is others. I went to Handzy yesterday and got 3 cards: a sympathy card for a friend who lost a relative, a thank you note for a friend who talked me a through a tough issue, and a card for a friend just to tell her she’s awesome. By the time I dropped them in the mail bin, I was happy as a clam. You know that soft, warm glow you get when you make a new friend or you know you did something good? I got that. On a Friday afternoon following a stressful work week, I’m not sure I could have done much better.
When I noticed this, it made me think about and understand my Grandpa a little bit better. While his generation moreso than mine tended to do things because it was “the right thing to do,” I tend to believe that humans, regardless of generation, consistently do the things that make them feel good. In short, I think he started sending all those birthday cards becuase he knew people liked it, but I think he kept doing it because he liked it. Sending cards is a small, simple way to send love to someone else but it creates love in the sender too. So, if you have a bad day and don’t know what to do, scroll through your contacts or social media feed and compile a list of the people who could use a greeting card. I think you’ll find that, like me and Grandpa Bob, it may be you who needs to send them.