Love, respect and appreciation: It's in the cards - Dr. Marty Becker

Love, respect and appreciation: It’s in the cards

Tuesday, Jan 10th, 2012 | By Dr. Marty Becker

If you’ve known me for very long you probably get a birthday card and a Christmas letter from me.

If you’re Mikkel or Lex, my two children ages 26 and 21 respectively, you can look forward to a card in your mailbox about once a week. Lex gets his long-distance right now — he’s in Nagasaki, Japan, studying for a year.

I send out about 200 Christmas letters each year, more than 100 birthday cards and have sent cards to my kids starting the week they left for college.

Why? Let’s start with adults and birthday cards. Birthdays are a really big deal for almost all of us growing up — think birthday parties, ice cream, cake and lots of presents — but as we get older some of us dread being another year older. But the day you were born remains a special day, and it’s nice to know people know and care enough to recognize it. As adults we receive very few birthday cards, and often our family members and closest friends forget. This never ceases to amaze me, especially since I know how appreciated the cards are:¬† For the 100 birthday cards I send out every year I probably receive 50 messages from the recipients (mostly e-mails, fewer texts, and even fewer phone calls) thanking me for remembering them on their special day.

While I might e-mail, text or talk to my kids almost daily, nothing takes the place of a carefully chosen card with carefully chosen words. I’m not a fan of getting or sending electronic cards,¬† and I am a real Hallmark zealot: I love the quality and quantity of their selection. I even worked with the Kansas City-based Hallmark years ago when they developed a line of cards called Pet Love Greetings. I probably buy more than 250 Hallmark cards per year. The two themes I gravitate to are animals and humor, and if the card has both, well, that’s when I buy every card in the stack.

A mentor told me years ago to “not let your participation be in the margin of the cards.” This meant that a mother or grandmother would write something detailed, thoughtful and heartfelt in the body of the card taking up most of the blank space whereas dad or grandpa would just write a little something in the margins like “Love you son, Dad.”

Cards that are sent to me mean a lot too. I save most cards that are sent to me and prop them up on my desk for several months to look at. For the extra special ones I put them in a yearly time capsule that can be accessed at any time in the future. In going through a time capsule from 1991 over the holidays, Teresa and I found cards we’d sent each other, a card we’d given Mikkel on her first day of school and a card from a special friend¬† who has since passed away. In a special drawer I have every card Teresa has given me during our 33-year marriage. Likewise, she has all the cards I’ve sent her in her hope chest. I’m talking hundreds of cards!

Do you like to receive and send cards too? Does any particular card you’ve received really stand out as extra special?