I have been blessed with a pretty awesome circle of friends and influencers in my life. Sometimes I sit and think of one or two of them and literally smile on the inside saying, “How could I be so lucky.” The truth is that friendships are really hard to maintain over time. This past Mother’s Day, I reached out to a friend via phone call because I had not heard from her. She always calls me on this holiday and I thought it strange that she hadn’t called. When it came to my mind that I hadn’t heard from her, I called and discovered that her phone number was inactive. “She changed her number and didn’t give it to me,” I thought. My heart sank. You see, Chanet and I go way back. We met in college. We don’t correspond all that much but our relationship is very strong. In fact, she is the godmother of my children. Our birthdays are two days apart, born in the same year. Yet, she is my big sister. So when I couldn’t reach her by phone, I immediately began to think all manner of bad things with regards to the demise of our friendship. Lucky for me, there is Facebook now. HA HA. I sent her a message online and discovered she was out of the country on assignment and she had deactivated her mobile phone because she couldn’t use it overseas. Whew. I was grateful that it wasn’t what I thought.
The fact that we had been out of touch for so long caused fear to grip my heart when I was unable to reach her. I value this friend, our longevity in relationship, and what she brings to my life. We have great memories together. Distance and differing lifestyles challenge our connection but we are keeping it alive. And how do we do that you ask? No, it is not by sending each other messages on Facebook (thank God I had it to rely on in this case). We both are lovers of greeting cards.
Recently, I was going through a box of old greeting cards I have saved from as far back as high school. I found cards people sent me when I graduated from high school. I found cards congratulating me on my promotions in the military and my marriage to my husband. I found cards from mentors I had lost touch with from years ago who had played a significant role in my life. I also found Chanet’s cards. I don’t remember when she started to do it, but she and her parents always sent me mailed greetings on holidays and just because. I realized, in that moment of reading those old cards, I held evidence of the immortal life of purposeful messaging.
In this day of fierce competition for business, I have begun to receive several cards in the mail from my financial planning counselor, dentist, and non-profits I support monetarily. They are all on this bandwagon of relationship retention. I get it. You want me to stick around so you need to make me think about you more often than just the few times I come to see you per year so you send me a greeting card to “stoke the fire” (as my grandmother would say). Well, I can’t say that it is working for my financial counselor all that much. But I can say that it is a personal habit that I enjoy. I do believe that greeting cards possess the power to strengthening your relationships. Yet, I don’t support the logic that it has to be an expensive card. Some business sites out there and high rollers will say that you have to buy cards of high- quality paper. I don’t believe the hype. It is your handwriting on the inside and the note you attach to the card that makes all the difference in the world.
Last year, I sent cards to a woman who had been a great friend to me while I was in college. She helped me to navigate some trying times in my life. I found her cards while going through that same box I mentioned earlier and I said to my husband, “I could kick myself for allowing this relationship to grow cold.” But then I realized I can “stoke this fire.” I purchased a nice card for her. Located her address via the internet. (You gotta love www.whitepages.com.) I put it in the mail and when I received her note some weeks later. I nearly cried. The relationship was rekindled just like that.
This has happened to me countless times now that I believe it is my superpower!
I have sort of become well known among my family members and close friends for sending nice cards. To me, nothing can take the place of receiving a personalized greeting in the mail that simply says, “I was thinking of you.” Handwriting on a card speaks differently than the enclosed printed message. I read the handwriting hearing the sender’s voice. Isn’t that how they portray it in the movies? It does happen that way you know? Well, it does in my head.
I want to encourage you today to think about three people you haven’t talked to in a while. Go purchase three inexpensive cards from the drug store (Walgreens is my favorite card shopping spot) or even Dollar Tree (Their large display of cards actually makes cheap look beautiful). Mail TODAY! Don’t put it off. Do this especially if a relationship you want to maintain seems to be growing cold. You don’t have to say much. Simply saying “Thank You” or “I Miss You” is enough. Audhesh K. Paswan and Suresh Subramanian, affiliated with University of South Dakota, suggested in their study about Greeting Card Buying Behavior, “it appears that in the moment when we address and sign it, we seem to transform a card (a product of mass-production) to a unique personal statement.” (Paswan & Subramanian, 2014, p. 7). I agree with that. Nothing like the power of personal touch. (That is another blog post.)
Yesterday I attended a webinar with The Christian Mompreneur and Theresa gave us an assignment to open our eyes to the abundance of blessings that we have right now and thank God for them. Just by sending a card every now, I am making a personal statement to the one intended that they are one of those abundant blessings in my life. We cannot over-communicate that to the people in our lives. So run down to the store with your few dollars in hand and pull out your pen. TODAY! Your handwriting communicates your heart’s content!
So how about you? How often do you unleash the strengthen relationship power of sending occasional greeting cards?
Paswan, A. K., & Subramanian, S. (2014). Communication of Feelings and Relationship: Greeting Card Buying Behavior. Proceedings of the 1996 Academy of Marketing Science (AMS) Annual Conference Developments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science, 7-13. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-13144-3_2