In the last few years, especially since the explosion of Facebook, I've noticed that I get a lot more happy birthday greetings than I used to. But, virtually all are Facebook notes sent from folks I am not all that close to, and most of the rest are text messages from friends, with a few cards from loved ones (especially my wonderful inlaws). I am not complaining at all... to me, it is totally the thought that counts, and every text and FB note makes me really happy. Really, it's just nice to know that someone was thinking about me and wishing me well.
But, doing my best to channel the spirit of a gracious hostess, I have resolved to keep better track of people's birthdays, and to send actual, paper birthday cards that arrive on or before the birthday. So far, so good. We've gotten cards out on time to all of Mark's immediate family this year (well, almost... the card to Mark's brother went out about two days later than it should have, but still before his actual birthday).
We didn't do quite so well on mother's day and father's day, but did manage to send flowers for the former, and a card to my dad on the latter. (I figure the card to his dad is more Mark's responsibility, though I did remind him once. And I think he did call his dad, so that sorta counts.) On my side, my dad got flowers instead of a card, and I felt good calling his local florist instead of going through one of the national biggies.
Congrats cards for engagements and babies are a more mixed bag. Because there is not a set deadline, as with birthdays, these types of cards tend to sit on our desks a bit longer. And, like any guy, Mark does not jump at the chance to write a nice note to his male friends... there's only so much I can do in these cases, and I just have to be okay with that.
There are a few things I have found helpful to stay on top of birthdays, since this has never been a strong suit of mine before. What I have found the most helpful is to enter birthdays into my Outlook calendar with annual recurrences, and reminders set to alert me a week before each birthday. Every few weeks, I go through and look at the coming few months birthdays, and then hit up Hallmark to buy cards for those people all at once. We also keep a stockpile of cards that don't need to be so closely tailored to the person: anniversary, baby, pregnancy, engagement, wedding, sympathy, congratulations. It sounds expensive to keep this stockpile, I know, but Hallmark actually has a pretty great stock of $.99 cards that don't look how you might expect for that price.
Cell phone picture of the current stack:
Armed with the appropriate cards, I write the person's name and birthday on a post-it, and then stick a note on each card. Then, I stack the cards with the soonest birthday on top, farthest off on the bottom. So when my Outlook reminder pops up a week in advance, I have the card right there and can send it out on time.
This is probably the most Martha-Stewartesque thing I do, but I'm glad I'm sticking to this resolution. Everyone loves getting birthday cards, and I think it's important to let those we love know how special to us they are. One little card a year goes a long way in showing that.
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