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I’m so ashamed…and I don’t know how I’m going to admit my sins to Gill. Here it is, past Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en, and I have mailed not a single greeting card to friends or family in honor of the holidays. At the rate I’m going, I’ll barely have time to send Christmas greetings. My rep as Greeter Extraordinaire will be shot.

And why is this such a problem, you ask? Mostly because, when I visited Gill in Bristol recently,all I bought to bring home was cards. We visited every lovely card shop in the city…and there were many. Gill egged me on, of course, since I am known as the ‘keeper of cards’ for the family. If anyone needs an emergency birthday, holiday, Sorry Your Plastic Surgery  Didn’t Go Well, Too Bad Your Boyfriend Dumped You card, or So Sorry To Hear You Got Fired greeting, I’m the go-to person to supply same. For years I’ve kept a shoebox full of cards for every occasion…some for occasions I will never need, but the cards are just so cute or funny I feel compelled to keep a stash just in case. Some people stock up on insurance policies or bonds for a rainy day…I stock up on cards.

When we hit the first card shop in Bristol, I went nuts. “Oh, look at these cute bird cards,” I gushed. “I’ll just take a couple…or three….or a dozen.” When Gill looked pained, I explained:”Well you know how I’ve been complaining lately that all the good card shops at home are gone and I can’t find anything worth putting my name on.”

“You do know, Ma, that most people just send email greetings or text birthday wishes these days, don’t you?”

“Yes, heathens all of them! There is nothing nicer than receiving a lovely card in the mail. It warms the soul! It’s that personal touch.”

I could have sworn I heard her mutter something about ‘touched in the head’, but since she was hosting me and voluntarily showing me all the card shops, I thought better of mentioning it.

After I had picked out half a dozen cards, she warned me:”Ma, you don’t want to peak too soon! This is only the first shop. There are many more. Pace yourself!”

The same thing happened at the following three shops. By now I had replenished my supply for the year. Gill was still shaking her head and warned me, “You do realize you have to get these all in your suitcase to take home, don’t you?”

“You see, that’s the wonderful thing about buying cards…and postcards… as souvenirs of your travels. They are easy to pack, don’t break in luggage, and provide a way of showing your friends what a world traveler you are. Oh, of course, I’ll also buy some liquor at the duty free shop in the airport. What says a wonderful trip more than a stack of cards and a bottle of booze?”

“Well, I will say, Ma, you’re a ‘cheap date’. It doesn’t take much to amuse you. A long walk on a beach, fish and chips in  a pub, a card shop and you’re done!”

I will admit that my delight in sending cards likely stems from my advanced age and the way I was reared. It was good form back in the day to send notes — thank you notes for gifts, Christmas cards with a catch-up letter, wishes for a speedy recovery. Although most people don’t bother any more, I still contend it makes one’s day to be remembered.  And I do feel I’ve a kindred spirit in Gill’s friend Italian Lady. She too keeps a stash of cards.I sent a lovely thank you card to her (a card from my Australian trip picturing a cockatoo) after she helped Gill with her abhorted colonoscopy. She appreciated it, as I sensed she would.

So, if I ever get myself in gear, I will happily dig into my Bristol stock of cards and send them off. And of course there’s the added pressure to use them up before my next trip to Mexico when I can refresh my supply. I’ve only got two-and-a-half months!