Writer | Journalist | Storyteller

I Don’t Do Cards


I don’t do cards. Not for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baptisms, funerals or Christmas. Never did. I don’t believe in them.

In 1996 I met a woman who didn’t believe in cards either. We were married a year later. I’m not saying that was the only reason, but certainly a contributing factor.

She also liked John Denver, so there’s that.

When you like John Denver, and you meet another person who also likes John Denver, you form a special bond. You don’t have to understand it. It’s not important. Suffice it to say, that the world is split into two types of people. Those who like John Denver, and those who don’t.

She liked John Denver. I liked John Denver. Also, we both thought the other person was kinda cute. When you find another person who shares your quirky likes and dislikes, you hold onto them.

One of the songs we played at our wedding was Lyle Lovett’s “Fat Babies.”

I said I don’t like hippies
And I don’t like cornbread
And I don’t like much
But I like you

‘Cause you like me
And you don’t like much
And that’s okay

That was us. We’re both a little cynical. Often enough to be healthy, we don’t like the same people. We laugh at the same dark humor. We’re a pair.

But most importantly, in almost 20 years of marriage, to my knowledge, we have never sent anyone a greeting card.

The closest we ever got was one year we considered sending out a Christmas letter spoofing the “read out how great my family is” letters we’d seen over the years. It was going to speak glowingly about our lives and the lives of our children while discussing very dark details that weren’t typical holiday fare.

Ultimately, we decided it was a little too on the nose, and some of the issues were still a little raw. I still think it would have been funny, if only to us, but we decided to spare everyone else.

It’s worth noting, I think, that in the United States, approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards are bought each year, at a total cost of more than US $7 billion. That’s 19 cards per capita for a population of 315 million people. And you know there are a lot of people like me who don’t buy cards, which means someone is buying A LOT of cards.

I forget which comedian it is, maybe Louis C.K., but they’ve got a bit that makes fun of the whole industry. “I’ll take this one. Yeah, that’s something I would say. I’ll just sign my name here.”

If you really think about it, it’s moronic. If you want to send someone a note, or a letter, I think that’s great. We should do more of that. But why would you spend $5 on a goofy card someone else wrote? It doesn’t make any sense.

The lowest form of this, of course, is the internet greeting card. “Hey, I want to wish you a happy birthday, but I don’t want to go to the pharmacy. Here’s a thing I found on the internet.“

Maybe worse still is the Facebook Happy Birthday. What a boon this was for Facebook. We all do it. We all feel compelled to wish people, some we don’t even know, a happy birthday, simply because Facebook told us to. It’s just peer pressure.

For that matter, the birthday is a really odd custom. Is there anything more narcissistic than celebrating your own birth? “Hey! It’s my birthday. Give me presents.“

It’s fine when you’re a child, I guess. They’re all little narcissists anyway. Why not. Most of the time, they don’t even know what it means. But it’s a party and everyone else is paying attention to them.

Seventeen is big because you can drive. Eighteen you get to go to war and prison. Twenty-one you get to drink legally. After that, I say we hang it up.

If you’re thirty and explaining on Facebook that it’s your birthday week, you really need to get a life.

I guess it really does just go back to childhood. Some people want to be the center of attention. They want at least one day a year where it’s all about them. So we buy them cake and sing that god-awful song. Give me a break.

Also, I don’t like cake.

About the author

David Todd McCarty

David Todd McCarty is a writer, director, photographer and cinematographer. He writes fiction and nonfiction essays as well as journalism. You can see his commercial work at http://www.hoppingfrogstudios.com

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By David Todd McCarty
Writer | Journalist | Storyteller


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