Earlier last week my mom took a tumble and had to be rushed to hospital. Thankfully her injuries turned out to be nothing serious. She had a sprain in her elbow and a split lip. The doctor instructed her to take it easy for a little while. Mom had been cooped up in her house for three days when Valentine’s Day rolled around. I felt bad for her. I thought I would cheer her up by giving her a Valentine’s Day card from her grandson. That may not sound like a big deal. But I have a personal canon not to indulge in the manufactured holidays that do little more but enrich the pocketbook of corporate America. Just because some jewelry company has a slogan saying, “If he cared he would give you a diamond”, I’m now supposed to go broke to buy a useless sliver of a pretty rock. I don’t think so. I don’t even want to be involved with a woman who would be so susceptible to such propaganda of marketing. Chocolate companies don’t make a dime off of me during Valentine’s Day. The florist can kiss my ass if he or she thinks I’d send a dozen roses on Valentine’s Day. I want my woman to know that I love her everyday and if she needs these high profile reassurances to massage her ego so that she can feel superior to another woman then chances are we’re not on the same page.
Unfortunately mom is different. She grew up with these traditions and values them totally. She knows that the cards, candies, flowers, and dinners are just propaganda. But she likes them nevertheless. So I wanted to buy my mom a Valentine’s Day card to help lift her spirits in her time of recovery. Off to the local chain of the nation wide pharmacy where I have to jockey for position in front of the card rack with about a dozen other people. The array of cards is dizzying but none of them are interesting. The first few samples I looked at were too sappy. The next are too stupid. Some try to be funny and fail miserably. Some try to be cute with about the same success. My personal philosophy is to avoid cards with white people on the cover, but cards featuring people of African descent are rather difficult to find. After about two hours of searching and sampling I found just the right card. It was a simple picture of a burgundy heart on top of some kind of golden fabric with white lace. It said something clever like “Happy Valentine’s Day Grandma”. You would think such a simple card would have be a dime a dozen.
I turned the card over and the price was nearly five dollars. I would’ve guess two dollars or maybe two fifty tops. I looked at some of the ugly cards and they were virtually the same price range. There was a separate display featuring some seriously ugly cards with rock bottom prices of just under two dollars. These were the types of cards that would have a grinning chimpanzee or an orangutan on the cover. After the “Any Which Way But Lose” movies with Clint Eastwood playing second fiddle to Clyde I didn’t think anyone bothered with these ugly primates any more. I stuck with my five dollar card. Mom is easily worth it but that’s not even the point. I’m paying good money for a product that I know I can do better on my own. Back in elementary school where we were programmed to participate in these holidays we used to get the red construction paper out, fold it in half and cut out a little heart shape, paste it to the white people, pull out the crayons, and bam! We’d all have a Valentine’s Day card for mom. It’s not rocket science.
These days, with so many images available off the internet and with my color printer, it shouldn’t be too hard to find something with a little more personality. I could even use an old family picture and do it up nice. That would be seriously nice. Or I could take a picture of baby boy smiling, print it off the color printer on some heavy high quality paper and stuff it in an envelope. That would make a nice card for mom. But that would have meant that I would have to spend time making the card with that personal touch and I was already pressed for time trying to make up for the day of pay lost when I had to take mom to hospital. I had to make up for the lost time by working every day for ten hours before the end of business Friday. That two hour difference really tore into my schedule. It was just so much easier to spend my hard earned money at the pharmacy on an impersonal card that I really didn’t even care for. Good thing grandma is the type of person that would appreciate even the ugliest of cards. She’d even appreciate a card with a grinning chimpanzee on the front.