Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To Love, Honor and Gift with Cards

Eleven years into holy matrimony and there’s one thing I know for sure: You need to present an anniversary card.
It must be funny.
It must be given at breakfast on the exact day of your marriage.
It must accompany a review of the blissful event for your children that includes but is not limited to the retelling of one wedding attendant’s accidental plunge into a nearby lake.
While my rendition of The Soaked Groomsman is always met with cackles, I am utterly failing in the funny card department.
This year on August 12, the best I could do was to present my very worthy husband with a humorous birthday card edited by me in black Sharpie to read “Happy Anniversary.”
Believe me, I had tried hard to find just the right anniversary sentiment, but it appears the greeting card industry no longer values the institution of marriage.
Instead, you’ll find a focus on the Big Five life stages: Birth/Birthdays, Graduation, Weddings, Illness and Death.
The options for birthdays alone are nearly endless.
Consider that for $7.50, you can purchase a card complete with a computer chip that allows a watercolor ostrich to belt out Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” in honor of your step-niece’s sweet sixteen.
Or if you’re on a budget but need something special for your neighbor’s cat who is celebrating a decade’s worth of nine lives, you can spend $.99 on a puffy, glitter-enhanced goldfish card.
There are pictures of cartoon canines for your dog walker’s big day, talking wine bottles to celebrate a member of the Vinophile Club, half-naked models pumping iron to inspire your personal trainer on her 40th.
Recently, I spied a birthday card for “that special nurse as she turns 28.”
Meanwhile, there are few offerings for those of us who have, year after year—often for decades---loved, honored and cherished our spouses through sickness and health.
Those that do celebrate wedding anniversaries are limited. They showcase pastel birds carrying what appear to be tablecloths in their beaks. The saying is always something like “You’re my one true love…I’m glad we share the same nest.”
Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and find a card featuring a photo of two octogenarians drinking coffee at a kitchen table. The tag line might read “I’m so glad we can share our morning rituals together.”
If these are analogies for modern-day marriage, it’s no wonder that American society is seeing a decline in the number of couples who officially declare their commitment at the altar.
The truth is, many marriages are delightful—and delightfully funny. That’s why “Modern Family” won so many Emmys.
There are dozens of themes that emerge over the course of one year alone that could inspire the authors of greeting cards.
If there is a card for the owner of a deceased parakeet, there most certainly should be one that under the heading of “anniversary” that conveys “Thanks for taking that really expensive cruise with my mother and her obnoxious boyfriend.”
Or, how about a 3-D picture of a pack of frozen peas along with the saying “It was so thoughtful of you to pick up that extra bottle of Valium before the vasectomy reversal.”
Hallmark could take a real photo of a couple surrounded by their four small kids showcasing a gloved husband picking lice out of his wife’s hair with a three-inch comb. The message inside could declare, “No matter how many nits you have, I will always want to run my fingers through your hair.”
Even community obligations could take a rather romantic turn.
Just picture a middle-aged couple wearing matching church choir robes with the message “Under this polyester, I am hot for God…and for you. Happy anniversary, Honey.”
Even the inevitable catastrophes that bind married couples to one another are cause for celebration.
I’d suggest a caricature artist draw up a frazzled-looking husband and wife holding up broken pipes in an attic, a waterfall pouring through the roof behind them. The accompanying message could read “Even when it’s all gone to Hell, there’s no one I’d rather live in my SUV with than you, Dear! Happy Anniversary!”
Greeting card companies, take note: While weddings are important, making it to your anniversary every year is even more cause for celebration.
Just ask any couple that’s had a band of noisy squirrels roost in their chimney before their newborn’s bris.

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