Happy Birthday, Bulk Mail

Everyone gets my card today. Really it's better this way.

By Helesia Luke 1 Jan 2007 |

Helesia Luke is a partner in Ethos Strategy Group, a Vancouver-based communications and strategic planning firm.

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Stress-free New Year's resolution

Dear everyone, Happy Birthday,

You are receiving this Birthday Card because you have been identified as a close personal friend, a pretty good friend, a nice person or a relative whom I might not know otherwise.

I do not usually send birthday cards. This is not a reflection on the degree to which I care about you or value our relationship; it is merely an indication of my stress level, distraction with kids, work, e-mail, excessive political volunteering and general over functioning. This year, however, I am turning over a new leaf.

One of my New Year's resolutions is a stress-free me, and you are my first step. You'll be flattered to know this resolution comes before my resolve to increase the likelihood of arriving at engagements closer to the start time.

It was too painful

In some instances, I genuinely don't remember exactly when your birthday is, but I could likely guess the season. It's not because I don't care. Really. As a matter of fact, I think about you often and try to remember your birthday almost daily hoping that I haven't missed it. This causes me stress. I often try to find out in subtle ways. Like the time when I asked your teenager but he didn't know, or if he did, I didn't understand the answer.

On the odd occasion when I do remember your birthday in time to send a card (usually because you told me -- thank you), my stress escalates. First, I have to find the right, fairly-traded, environmentally correct card that's witty or insightful or artistic or genuinely funny. Next, I have to come up with a special, profound -- or at the very least grammatically reasonable -- thing to say. And then...because I suffer from disordered-penmanship, I have to hold the pen funny and try to write as though I am indeed an intelligent adult. After that ordeal I have to find a stamp. Or, more likely, be chastised by my husband for buying them at midnight at 7-Eleven instead of using the 47-cent stamps left over from when stamps were 47 cents that live at the bottom of the kitchen drawer -- and top them up with the roll of one-cent stamps he bought but can't find.

This year, I have decided to transcend all this and send you my heartfelt wishes in advance, all at once, at the beginning of the year.

I made a special trip to the dollar store for a lovely box of assorted birthday cards. Rest assured I'll give it some thought and select the right one for you. For those of you living in the same household, I hope you do not receive duplicates, but I can't be held responsible if that happens.

It is hard to write a personal and special birthday wish at the best of times, so I know you'll appreciate the extra thought I put into your New Year's birthday greeting this year. Please select the appropriate sentiment from the following choices:

Close personal friend: Thanks for always being there -- you are a great friend indeed and our friendship has profound meaning for me. You are insightful, witty and a truly great (pick one) baker / composer / listener / optician. I hope you have a special day and a wonderful year -- you deserve it!

Pretty good friend: Thanks for being a good friend -- let's have that (pick one) lunch / drink / coffee / run / pedicure we talked about three years ago. In the meantime, I hope all is well with you -- send me your new phone number as I understand from that newspaper article you are moving to Seattle. Have a wonderful day!

Nice person: Well -- what can I say? We've (pick one) worked / volunteered / protested together and I really appreciate your great attitude. Good luck with the job search and remember to take time to smell the roses! Have a great day!

Relative: One of the great things about relatives is that I would probably never have met you if you were not my (pick one) brother / sister / niece / nephew / mother / father / other. I really value our differences and learn something new and questionable from you each year at Christmas dinner. Have a great birthday and call when you get back from Mexico.

Well, that just about wraps it up. Again, Happy Birthday everyone! I wish you all you wish for yourselves on your special day.

With love, Helesia

PS: This letter is an anomaly and should in no way be construed as the beginning of a birthday card pattern.

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