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Kent Bernhardt: It’s In the Cards

Have you bought a Father’s Day card yet?

The card section in my local drugstore doesn’t want me to forget that it’s right around the corner. They have signs up screaming reminders at me to buy my cards and gifts early for the best selection.

I’ve learned if you wait until the last minute, you usually have a selection of cards that are either outlandishly expensive or outlandishly cheap. The early birds get the pick of the crop — the moderately priced cards with the clever messages.

When it comes to buying cards for most any occasion, I often have trouble finding one that’s appropriate. Recently, I found what I thought would be a perfect Mother’s Day card for my mom.

I was thrilled because it was one of the first cards I picked up. That almost never happens.

Upon closer examination, I discovered it was designed to be sent by a thoughtful daughter, not a son. That was a close call. I pictured myself sitting at home scratching out the word “daughter” wherever it appeared and replacing it with “son.”

Noooo … that’s so cheap. I would never have done that.

Would I?

I’ll tell you what I like to do that’s cheap. When a friend has a birthday, I like to buy an inexpensive card that’s totally inappropriate, like a graduation card. Then, I simply write a note inside that says “I wanted to get you a nice birthday card, but the graduation cards were on sale.”

I don’t know if Jack Benny ever thought of that, but his friends would have loved it.

For the more thoughtful moments in life, I love the cards with no messages inside. It allows me to be more personal, which works well most of the time.

Once though, I bought one of those cards and half way though my composition of the message, I realized I wasn’t saying what I wanted to say at all. I had even spelled the recipient’s name wrong.

I wound up buying a second card and rehearsing my message on a doodle pad before wrote it in the actual card. By the time I finished, I wished I had just called them.

I have another problem that’s beginning to show up in my old age. My handwriting skills are diminishing rapidly.

There’s a logical explanation for that. I simply don’t use my cursive writing skills much these days. You lose what you don’t use. I reached a point in my life where my signature was the only thing I wrote by hand, and it had become more of a scribble than an actual readable name.

I’ve actually had a few people thank me for my thoughtful note, and wonder aloud if I wrote it with my foot.

So I do what many of you will consider deplorable. I choose a nice script font on my computer and type away. I let the machine do what I can’t. I then sign each note with an actual pen.

Go ahead and hate me, but you would thank me if you ever received an actual hand-written note from me. Your eyes would cross trying to read it.

People send cards less these days, and I think that’s a bit of a shame. There’s something about finding a note in your morning mail that creates a warm feeling that’s hard to achieve in a mere text. The ease of modern technology has rendered us less eloquent than we used to be, and there’s a sadness to be found in that.

But, as they say, it’s the thought that counts. And thoughts count, whether they come in an expensive Hallmark card purchased well in advance of a special day, or in a scribbled note left on a cluttered desk, or even in a thoughtful text.

Someone cared enough to send you their thoughts and good wishes, and though the method may change, caring will never go out of style.

Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury.


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