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Greetings: A Piece of My Mind

As I was doing my summer closet-cleaning, a box fell off the top shelf and spilled its contents on the floor. I thought “Aha! Something I haven’t opened for at least a year – probably should be thrown out right away!”

I stooped to pick up the spill. It was my collection of greeting cards received over … how many years?

The first I picked up was a handmade card of a girl drawn by a very young person. Tucked inside was a greeting from the family, which had just purchased the house across the street, introducing themselves and their three daughters and saying that they were “looking forward to being our neighbors for many years.” They were wonderful neighbors for nearly five years; they moved last week.

The second was a birthday card with glasses on the cover, clearly filled with martinis complete with sparkly olives, from my cousin and her husband. They did meet in a bar, but he helped her beat alcoholism after they married, and she has been sober for decades. Odd to see her name on a liquor-themed card.

The third was a standard form from a long-term health study I had participated in following my bout with cancer. It included a recipe for a healthful, protein-rich, minimal-sugar birthday cake, which I had always meant to try but so far have not summoned enough virtue.

The fourth was a snarky birthday card from my brother and his wife. Judging from the low, low price listed on the back, this was sent very early in their marriage. Before their marriage, he usually forgot my birthday entirely. Under his wife’s influence, the cards have become less snarky and more elegant over the years.

The fifth was a formula computer-generated card from my mother, the first in our family to become computer literate. For years, she custom-designed all her birthday and Christmas cards on her beloved Mac.

The sixth was a plain piece of ordinary blue paper folded in half. The message, written in an unfamiliar hand, read “Happy Birthday, Mom,” followed by the names of my two sons. There is a splatter of what looks like pine sap on the upper corner. I remember with great fondness how my children conspired to surprise me with flowers on my birthday that year. My husband and I had gone camping in the remote Anderson Valley. The boys managed to find a part-time florist in Boonville who made a bouquet of garden flowers accompanied by an impromptu card and delivered them to our tent site in her pickup truck.

I guess I won’t be able to throw this box out right away after all.

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