by Peter Hamilton Travis
Every year — from Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day — I consider myself lucky to be the recipient of mailboxes of greeting cards.
What makes these cards so genuinely special, is that they are exclusively from long-term friends — people I’ve kept in touch with for 10, 15, 20 years — some since early Grade School. *
* In most cases, claiming I’ve kept in touch with any of these sweet people is an outright lie. I cherish the trust my kind readers have burdened me with. For, next to my bed sits a cracked, slightly yellowed photograph featuring some put-upon pack mule — with authenticity forever strapped to its concave back. Only for you:
My kind readers.
So, truthfully — I have not sent a response of any sort to any of these cards since crayons and brightly-colored construction paper served all of our communication needs.
From the bleakness of my black mailbox, down my slushy driveway — the cards cheer me up — smashed down into a pocket of my backpack. Once I make it into the house and realize just how much weight the cards have already added to my day-to-day life — they are quickly fished from my bag — careful to not disturb my bills and important mail — and tossed into a lovely bowl. Day after day. Week after week.
Even after courageously pulling myself free from Facebook’s infectious, infected tick-like charm years ago — the cards keep coming. Thankfully, even with a hummingbird’s (probably just your neighbor’s new drone assessing the state of your blooms) rapidity of technological advancement tapping at our windows, I could choose to manually open the ecru linen envelopes of good tidings. Precisely like they do during the upcoming exclamation point at the end of a loooong sentence of frivolous televised award shows.
Or…every award show.
I’ve a seedy confession to make. Grab hold of the upholstered, overstuffed arm of your nearest chaise.
If you happen to be at a Starbucks, toss yourself over the lowest glass partition and grab the nearest barista — forcing them into an intimate, yet mutually supportive — vice-grip- of-a-headlock.
More often than not, I can’t bring myself to sift through my bowl of unopened cards. They simply pile up — and over — the rim of whatever massive bowl I’ve evolved to.
I have unopened cards from decades ago.
Facing the inevitable phone calls changes nothing. I’ve simply learned how best to answer the simplest of questions.
“Hey Peter! Did you get our Christmas card?”
“Oh, yeah! Thanks. Really funny…
Which usually works unless said card contained any of the following words or phrases in the infamous, “Annual Fill-in-The-Blank Family Update:”
“The twins are making quite the ruckus!”
“Our news-making cruise to Houston!”
“Tom finally proposed”
“Tom lost his job again”
“Small cell anything”
Perhaps it’s time for a new bowl.
This doesn’t happen with emailed cards!
Thinking of technology, I remember my first tablet as a small child. The ones I had in the early 1970’s served their purpose brilliantly. And each was shaped like a different character from my favorite cartoon.
I vehemently refused all Flintstones tablets with the exception of purple Dinos — which must have displeased my poor mother to no end. What a wasteful, annoying practice for a five year-old!
Out of an entire bottle of Flintstones Chewables™ — with Fred Flintstone, Wilma Flintstone, Pebbles Flintstone, Barney Rubble Bamm-Bamm Rubble, The Great Gazoo, Betty Rubble (who tragically joined the vitamin party a bit late…like 20-years too late. Something to do with her “lack of a waistline” interrupting the manufacturing processes) * — all fighting for bottle volume…what kind of ratio was my mother faced with each morning to find the elusive purple Dino?
* Look, we’re all adults here. It’s no secret Betty survived on a diet of Pterodactyl droppings and gravel. We’re all just happy she got the help she needed. Rock on B-Rub!
There was not a place at the table for negotiating at 7AM. Or, any time for that matter. My mother would sit me down in front of a bowl of Cap’n Crunch™ (whose legal name is Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch), one purple Dino, a napkin, a spoon, a Bugs Bunny-emblazoned juice glass (read: Made in God-only-knows-where, using 100% lead-based, dishwasher soluble, “frigate” paint).
I would like to take just a moment to thank all moms from the 1970’s for going that extra mile — like clipping box tops. For reading and remembering rules and regulations. Handwriting entry cards, addressing envelopes, finding stamps, driving to the Post Office…all things that today our mobile phones can knock out with a single scanning “app.”
So hats off to all moms from the 1970’s! I only wish my mom — Ruth — was still healthy and here. She’d be swimming in hats!
PETER HAMILTON TRAVIS would be happy to hear from others who enjoyed Flintstones Chewables ™. But only purple Dinos. Send me a Telegraph.