How long should I keep greeting cards? Sunday afternoon I sifted through a plastic box crammed with a thousand old cards. I may be a hoarder or a sentimental old fool, but I’ve kept every card I’ve ever received. Clearly it was time to cull the syrupy collection.
The assembly included invitations and announcements. Birth, graduation, marriage, and death announcements. I placed those keepers in a separate file to scan into my computer. But what about the rest?
Greeting Anniversary and birthday cards. Thank you notes. Get well cards. Postcards. Cards from disconnected old friends, former colleagues, and vanished pals. International students’ cards with cute little flowers. People who cared, who took the time to send me sweet, considerate messages. My fingers touched each card tenderly. Laughed at the funny cards. Cried over the sad ones.
I found surprises. Opening an anniversary card from Bill’s deceased granny dated 1999, I stared at a twenty-dollar bill! She always sent money, but I had missed this one. I found three 2010 unused gift cards, two bookmarkers, and several grandkids photos.
Overwhelmed with emotion during the afternoon, I read words from family members now deceased. One small note was from my brother. The only note I ever received from him, besides his words on thank you notes, was signed, “Your adoring brother, Fredrick.” That tore my heart, bringing back memories of a few years ago when we took cancer treatments together. My sweet brother didn’t make it. I read my late Grandma Bill’s notes with prayers and Bible verses to encourage me. Departed relatives who showered me with consistent thankfulness and concern.
I didn’t want to discard any connection to my past.
So how would I decide what to keep and what to throw away? How could I dispose of my grandson’s first birthday party announcement? My granddaughter’s childish stick figure drawing, her and me with the words “together forever”? The note from my daughter when she was a teenager stating how she appreciated my parenting? My mother’s beautiful handwriting?
I kept most cards from our children and grandchildren, and at least one or two of every deceased relative. I also kept every single one of my husband’s hundred cards given through the years, and plan to tape them to our bedroom wall next Valentine’s Day. I kept many family members and a few friends’ cards.
Almost half of the cards and envelopes were thrown into a huge pile. I wish I was diligent about replies, and after the afternoon of re-reading, I will try harder. I appreciate each correspondence because that huge assortment of drawings, pictures, and words humbled me in a surprising way. So many people connected to me. I was loved—and overwhelmed.
Many times in the Bible, God tells us to remember. Remember, not just how he helped the Israelites, but what he has done in our lives. He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4.
Each beautiful card brought back memories and a nostalgic history drew me a picture of what God has done by bringing loved ones near.