It was my mum’s birthday recently and my two boys are of the age where they love to draw birthday cards for people, and I am of the age where I begrudge spending £2 for a mass-produced tacky piece of twaddle from the selection readily available in the supermarket next to the gift paper and magazines.
In my youth when each day had at least 36 hours, time to spare to paint my nails, shave my legs and complain of being bored, I used to make my own too. But age has crept up on me and commitments have grown and now each day has only 12 hours, my legs are like a Yeti’s and I’d already burnt the dinner, stepped on the cat and spilt bleach on my new top so hey, I let the smalls do it. Delegation, saving money and making people feel special all at the same time. A win, win and win in my hairy legged book.
People do feel special with a homemade card don’t they? They don’t just think, “Oh great, here’s another scrawled piece of tat from her kids because she’s too tight and lazy to go to the shop to get a proper card, and have you seen the state of her legs recently? She won’t be needing thermals this winter I can tell you!”
When it comes to homemade cards I have spent a few years now trying to encourage the children to think about the likes and character of the recipient and not themselves. For 9 months or so when Biscuit was around 5 years old every card, be it birthday, Christmas, commiserations on the death of your cat, congratulations on passing your driving test now you can drive without hitting cats, were all adorned with scary, scaled, gnarly dragons.
I’d obviously praised it very highly the first time and he thought he’d got a winning formula and stuck to it; not so good though on a congratulations on the birth of your beautiful baby girl card (it’s no reflection on the appearance of your child honestly), or a happy birthday Poppy now you are one card (and I’m sure her disturbed nights were just a coincidence!)
At the age of eight he went through a phase of not wanting to draw anything on a card at all and joined the cohort who felt I should go out and buy one. Cards became very factual, Happy Birthday was drawn in big letters on the front, in bubble writing if you were lucky and inside a simple ‘from’ followed by his name. No ‘love from’ and certainly no kisses. To the point to say the least.
I feel now however that I have reached a place where the children will ponder a while on the individual the card is for and think about the things they like to do and the type of person they are and create something wholeheartedly appropriate and with care and love.
It is a risky business though, as the instigator of said card drawing mission it is my duty to praise to the ceiling all of their creations and never could I suggest a tweak , addition or omission for fear of squashing and permanently damaging their creative juices and self-esteem. And of course every card is delivered with gusto. Once suggested, there’s no turning back.
My mum’s birthday loomed and the felt tips came out. Little Crumb took the task very seriously and diligently drew a pretty house, with individual bricks, a path, trees, flowers , a chimney and the obligatory smoke. A chocolate box scene; admirably suitable for any Granny and I praised his perfect nailing of the genre.
Big brother Crumb was equally enthusiastic and had obviously thought about his Grandma very carefully before embarking. On the front he’d drawn a startled wide-eyed, mouth agape person uttering the capitalized words “YOU’RE HOW OLD!!!”
My poor mum, roared with laughter when she saw it, after all nothing says I love you more than a truly personalized card, does it!