Card Buying
by John Norberg, humor columnist s

Our modern day life is filled with stress.

It's a wonder we survive.

We have demanding jobs and there's the house to take care of. There are bills to pay, clothes to wash, meals to fix, telephones to answer. It's enough to drive us crazy.

And then there is the most stressful thing of all.

There are greeting cards to buy.

We are a greeting card society.

Throughout the year on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, probably Groundhog Day and who knows what else, we're expected to give greeting cards to the people we love.

When we add up all our relatives and friends and multiply them by the number of greeting card days, we end up with a year that has more cards than days.

The stress comes in picking them out.

We're all suffering from Greeting Card Stress Syndrome (GCSS).

Stores carry thousands of cards. They claim to have cards for every occasion, expressing every conceivable emotion.

So why is it so hard to find even one that says what we want to say?

The cards are too sentimental or not sentimental enough. The ones that try to be funny are too often crude and insulting. Some are too flowery and others too plain.

They're too pink or too green.

First man: "I don't know what I'm going to do. My wife's birthday is coming up. I've got to get something."

Second man: "Buy her a nice necklace. How about a new watch or earrings."

First man: "You don't understand. Figuring out the gift is hard enough. But finding the right card really drives me crazy."

Second man: "Do what I do. I always buy my wife two birthday cards. First, I buy a funny card that expresses exactly who I am."

First man: "What's the second card for?"

Second man: "The second card is romantic to apologize for the first card and exactly who I am."

I talked to a friend this week who had an ever better idea.

"Here's what we do," he says. "On Valentine's Day my wife and I go to the card store and we start going through them. I find one I like. My wife finds one she likes.

We meet in the middle of the aisle and we show each other our cards."

"It sounds very nice," I said.

"Then we take the cards, put them back in the rack and go home," he said. "We've saved hundreds of dollars during our years of marriage this way. And if I pick out a card for her that she doesn't like, I can always just turn around and find another one on the shelf." I think he's on to something. This makes total sense. Why spend so much money on something when we don't have to? Why go to all the stress of wondering if we've picked out the right card when it's not necessary? It got me to wondering if this might work for other things. There are a number of special occasions coming up in our lives. So the other day I made a suggestion to my wife about what we could do to celebrate.

"How would like to go to the jewelry store and I'll show you some really beautiful things that I think you'll like?" I said.

She said that sounded like a wonderful idea and we're going in a couple days.

But I wonder if she noticed that I never said a word about buying anything.

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