What makes you nostalgic about the past? Looking at an old photograph? An old post or picture on Facebook or Instagram? Nowadays when we think of wishing someone, it’s all digital – whether it’s through Facebook, Whatsapp, iMsg, BBM (the minority that still uses it), and even Twitter and Instagram (yes, I have had that happen to me), we barely think of texting or calling. What we don’t remember at all… is the tradition of gifting cards.
A few days ago, decided it was about time to do some spring cleaning (even though it’s summer) and decided to get rid of things that I no longer needed but which had some kind of sentimental value. Many of the objects I found didn’t since they were wrappers of presents I had received a long time ago, receipts from things I had bought (which I have lost, broken or given away). However, then I stumbled upon a stack of envelopes that contained something that I had not gotten or given in a very long time: greeting cards. These were cards from my birthdays, Christmas, New Years, Eid, invites to parties, and even a few saying Thank You. Opening each one was almost like travelling back in time and once again feeling excited and giddy did as when I first received them. The cards were of all kinds: the super fancy ones with 3D shapes, 2D ones with funky writing, decorated with hearts, flowers, the massive yellow-smiley ball, cats, babies…pretty much anything that makes a card great.
Elegantly written font saying things my friends and family couldn’t put in words themselves along with beautiful words they had written themselves – really just adding to the fancy words the cards had provided them with. It was like going through a time-capsule from almost 5-6 years ago, like coming across a treasure I had all along and had completely forgotten about. Though some cards didn’t have all the nice words from my friends (because let’s face it, if you have to give out around 20-30 Christmas cards, you simply cannot personalize every single one of them), the simple gesture of having received the card made me feel special. They had thought of me when purchasing the card and that felt good. The kind of good a Facebook post or a Whatsapp message cannot make you feel, (though those are genuine gestures too) but the feeling of holding an actual physical card in your hands, given by someone standing right in front you is something that cannot be matched virtually. These are memories that can be preserved just like a Polaroid or a picture taken on film and then developed.
All of this got me thinking about the movie 500 Days Of Summer in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt works for a Greeting Card company and it made me realise how much thought actually goes into writing the perfect greeting card. You want a card that perfectly expresses what you want to, but can’t because you cannot find the right words, even though they are at the tip of your tongue.
And then comes the process of picking out the perfect card. Not many practice this anymore, but back when giving out cards was really big, it was, honestly, a real workout to pick out the perfect card for any occasion and always worry that someone else has picked the same card as you. The card had to represent the kind of person that you were and at the same time express what you wanted to AND it had to be different .It was a real task! Now, we just write out the same emotion-less message that we have written to many other people and other people have written to us. It’s the same ‘have a great one! X’ or ‘wish you have a great day!’, and sometimes we have the misfortune of even receiving ‘hbd’ or ‘merry xmas’ – you can tell a person really hasn’t even tried and simply did it to keep up appearances. I‘ll admit, I’ve been guilty of the same crime, but after receiving that three-alphabet birthday ‘wish’, I vowed to at least try and personalise my messages or Facebook and Twitter wishes.
In this digital age we rarely feel the need to express our emotions with words; instead we think emoticons and cheesy one-liners on someone’s wall or chat window will suffice, but it really doesn’t. In my opinion, today’s world, where people have become cold-hearted towards one another, it would be a sincerely nice gesture to give or receive a card that wished you or even said a simple “Thank You”. The fact that someone went out of his or her way to purchase that card for you really does make a difference. Maybe that’s just me though. I am bit old-fashioned like that and I am proud to say that I am. I get that from my parents who, to this day, will give my siblings and I cards on our birthdays and even though it a small gesture, really does go a long way.