In November 2018 my mother had fainting incident and fell while at "day care". Since we couldn't find my father, I left work and went speeding to their home. Eventually, over halfway there, we found him and I was reassured by my sister that Mom had also recovered and was going home. Too late, I was still on my way.
Rather than worrying her more, I said that I'd come home to celebrate her birthday—I'd even brought her gift with me, a t-shirt celebrating the Red Sox World Championship. She was happy to see me and to get the gift. Dad brought over her stack of birthday cards and together they opened them, with Dad reading the comments. One card was from some local friends and had been sent back and forth on her birthday and Fran's birthday for years. Sadly, that was the last time the card would be mailed.
Then I read this in the Globe & Mail: One card, 50 years of greetings: the ultimate green Christmas tradition 🔒
In 1970 – that same year we received Arlene and Moe’s card – I was just beginning to think about conservation and recycling. Arlene and I were both pregnant that year, and my husband was just finishing graduate school. We had little money for non-essentials, and it bothered me to throw out the beautiful Christmas cards we received. I saved them all. In 1971, I handwrote our Christmas letters, including an invitation to join us in recycling cards. And then I popped the letter into everyone’s seasonal card that they’d sent us last year. I wrote our names – including our new baby’s name – and the current date just below our friends’ signatures from the Christmas before.
Some people thought this was tacky; they never returned their card. Some exchanged theirs for a few years, but found it difficult to find an envelope the right size, and heaven forbid using one that wasn’t a perfect fit, or worse, homemade.
Arlene and Moe embraced the program wholeheartedly and lovingly returned their card to us in 1972, adding their new son to the list. Names of second children eventually appeared for each family. When the children were old enough to bring in the mail and recognize return addresses they’d gleefully holler, “THE CARD has arrived!”
After I got rid of the moisture the mysteriously ran down my cheeks, I thought about my friends and who I could start this sort of tradition with. It wouldn't be over 50 years, but any years of tradition would feel good.
Happy birthday to someone... again and again and again.