It is quite an honor for me to be asked to be a guest blogger for Polka Dot Design. Celebrating Everything is a way of life, my way of life. It is fun to remember birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and social goalposts of life. Are there words to describe the joy a child has when he or she opens mail and it’s a beautiful card?
It takes time to become a ‘sender of invitations and cards’. I wasn’t always like this and I still am far from my ideal. But I am making progress.
I always loved buying cards and stationery, and it was done with the greatest of intentions. My ‘To Do’ list always was filled with cards that needed to be sent. Sympathy for the loss of a mother for an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. Fun card to another friend. Encouragement for a co=worker. Child’s big day going to school on the first day. The list continues. I’d purchase the cards. Then they would sit and look at me, throwing guilt my way. It got to the point where I forgot what card was for whom. Finally I’d just donate the ever growing pile of unused cards to Goodwill. And most assuredly I would start all over again.
One day I had a nice chat with my inner self. It was sobering to ponder all the people who had major challenges or events in their lives and I did not acknowledge them (even if I did remember them in my messed up world). I realized that I truly believe in sending greetings and inviting people to social events of every kind. “Let’s meet for coffee!” is a fun card to send. There are so many expressions of love that people enjoy receiving. I just needed a system for getting them out.
I set up ‘Ground Rules’.
1. Don’t panic about dates. Hit the right month. I am serious about this. It’s like the ‘Birthday Month’ free cake and ice cream at your favorite restaurant. You have a month to cash in on it.
2. Forget about ‘years’. I don’t track ages of anyone, nor length of marriage.
3. Family is inclusive. All the dotted lines. In laws, outlaws, steps, foster, etc. Everyone is ‘in’, no exceptions. Don’t spend two seconds worrying about whether or not someone should be ‘in’. They should.
4. Never pass up the chance to shop for cards and supplies. Always keep enough on hand to get through three months.
5. Organize cards by event or theme if it can span a number of events. Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy, etc. are events. Themes include Chocolate, Wine, Coffee, Sports, Music, Satire, Hilarious, etc.
4. Create a spreadsheet with all the names and dates for every event feasible. Review annually. Sort into months, and set aside time each month to do that list. I average 20 to 30 per month.
4. Create an alphabetical address list that is set up to print an envelope. It is easy to switch sizes and print just one at a time.
5. If you miss a month, either be late or get them next year. Don’t guilt about missing something.
6. Special events are those occasions that need a card one time only. Great job on stage playing a character. Thanks for the tomatoes from your garden. Missed you while you were away on vacation. Your art exhibit was fantastic. And so on. These events are noted on my To Do list and reviewed once a week, so a card can be sent.
7. Be creative. Remember people with odd things to celebrate. National Bean Day. Oktoberfest. Chinese Year of the Rooster. The possibilities are endless.
Even with this list, it took me 3 years to apply my daily habits to my belief in sending cards and invitations. Year One I started in January, and made it through March. The second year I started again in January and ended in August. The third time is a winner. Why did I always restart in January instead of the next month? It just seemed right at the time. Of course the people that fell into those early months in the year never realized it wasn’t a total habit yet.
In the end, I must say, it is worth it to remember other people. Cards are classy. Special. It is touching someone’s life in a way that social media never can. Everything is worth celebrating if it involves reaching out to others.