Yesterday was my birthday, and if you remember the commercial quoted in the title of this post, you’re like me, older than dirt. But I don’t want to talk about age today. I want to talk about birthday greetings. I got a LOT. I got two cards in the mail, I got lots of face-to-face wishes and hugs at the Senior Center, and I got a phone call from my sweet friend Mary. Everything else was electronic. My question is, were the electronic greetings live or Memorex?
I got a text from Christian on Monday telling me that my birthday gift wouldn’t be “done until tomorrow” and he would mail it after that. Then we chatted about possible dates for David and me to visit Portland. I got another text from him early yesterday wishing me happy birthday, and we chatted some more.
When I turned on my computer, I had e-cards from David, his two sisters and his mom. Then I went to Facebook. I got a few greetings a day or two before my actual birthday, but yesterday I had so many posts on my timeline that I got one of those “so many people posted here that we couldn’t show them all” kind of messages, and the posts kept coming all day. By the end of the day, my one-day-older fingers were stiff from acknowledging them all.
So, were all these greetings live or were they Memorex – were they real personal acknowledgements of my birthday and my relationship with the sender, or were they easy, inexpensive substitutes for the real thing?
The texting from Christian was, without question, the real thing. There’s a two-hour time difference between us, and when we try anything else, it doesn’t work. He’s on a plane or I’m outside without my phone or the kids are asleep or I’m at church or he’s in a meeting, etc. etc. etc. We text when we can, we answer when we can and we keep in touch. It was nice to hear that he’s sending something tangible, but the contact was live, electronic or not.
E-cards versus paper cards? Don’t misunderstand when I talk about easy and inexpensive – I’m into that myself. When I buy greeting cards, I go to Family Dollar, and if you’ve looked at the price of cards lately, you’ll understand why. I may have to change my card-buying venue to a store that changes their stock more often, though. After David’s birthday in February, I realized I got him the same card this year that I got him last year. My point is that David, Christian, his family and David’s mother, who doesn’t have a computer, get real cards. Everyone else gets an e-card or a Facebook note. But I never really thought about it from the other end until yesterday.
I felt a little bit like Charlie Brown looking for a Valentine card from the little red-haired girl when I didn’t find more cards in the mail box, but then I thought about it. I really like the e-cards. They’re lively and fun, and the sender usually adds a more personal note than they would on a “real” card. After I’ve read an e-card, I can delete it or save it to a PDF file without suffering the angst of feeling guilty about throwing it away or feeling stupid for stuffing it into an already bulging file folder, knowing I won’t look at it again until I decide to clean out the filing cabinet, and then I’ll feel guilty for throwing it away. So I decided e-cards are live.
The last kind of greeting was Facebook posts. Many were sweet and simple: “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Birthday, Linda.” Some posts were very creative. My brother’s sister-in-law Barbara posted a personalized Creative Memories card that included a picture of me that didn’t make me look too old. There were others who attached cute pictures and lots who added personal comments. There were compliments and inside-joke references that made me smile. Some posts led to discussions like the one with my first cousin’s daughter as we tried to decide what our relationship is and what her relationship is to Christian. One of my favorite comments was from a high school friend who said he honored my birthday by looking through our senior yearbook. Whatever form they took, each Facebook greetings made me feel special – definitely live.
I’ve continued to get a few greetings today, and I have no doubt that any greeting that one person takes the time to send to another is live, electronic or not. I did, however, resolve to use a little more imagination when I send Facebook greetings. After all, I’m supposed to be a writer. Surely I can come up with something more than “Happy Birthday to You!”