Friday, February 16, 2007

Another Hallmark Moment

This morning’s Detroit Free Press carried an Associated Press article on Hallmark’s latest venture. I stopped buying cards at the Hallmark shop a long time ago, mainly because all I wanted was a pretty card saying “Happy Birthday”, and I had to wade through shelves marked “To my step-son’s mother” or “To my cousin’s wife’s aunt.” In fact, after a lifetime of buying and sending birthday cards, it only recently struck me that it was a dumb thing to do in those cases when I enclosed a long letter that mentioned the birthday in the text anyway. For years I had been subscribing to the marketing ploy that kept Hallmark afloat.

But there are times when a card won’t do, though Hallmark is determined to fill that niche:

The new line includes cards tackling cancer diagnoses, quitting smoking, caring for an aged parent, miscarriage, anniversaries of loss, loved ones in the military and traumatic loss, such as someone dying in an accident or homicide.
There are 176 such cards, so that when someone is suffering from eating disorders, you can assure them, “All I want for you is to be healthy—healthy and happy with yourself. Please take it one day at a time until you are”. Or how about: ”Cancer is a villain who doesn’t play fair… but it can’t dim your spirit, and it can’t silence prayer”? All at around $3 a pop.

I know it is often hard to find the right words in difficult times, but this is not the answer. To all school superintendents I say, “Find a spot in your English curriculum to teach written human communication. Include journals, e-mail and, yes, even blogging. Explore thank you letters, sympathy letters and plain old newsletters. Of course the relevance of literature to the student’s life is important, but teach the relevance of a few well chosen words.” And to parents I add, “Teach your child the power of a note that simply says, “Thank you,” or “I’m sorry.”

And to the CEO of Hallmark I say, “Don’t count on me to contribute to your $4.2 billion empire.”

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