Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spreading Smiles

"I mean," {said Alice}, "what is an un-birthday present?"
"A present given when it isn't your birthday, of course."
Alice considered a little. "I like birthday presents best," she said at last.
"You don't know what you're talking about!" cried Humpty-Dumpty. "How many days are there in a year?"
"Three hundred and sixty-five," said Alice.
"And how many birthdays have you?"
... "and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents–"
"Certainly," said Alice.
"And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!"

Valentine's Day has come and gone; the red and pink have vanished from the seasonal aisles in the stores, but it is now that I am making cards. When I was growing up, Valentine's Day was a family holiday: my younger sister and brother and I would make Valentines for everyone, using prodigious amounts of red and pink construction paper, glue, and stickers. My parents would give us each a card and a little silver wire basket of pink and red peanut M&Ms and silver Hershey's kisses. Sometimes they would give us a new DVD which our whole family could enjoy watching. It was not so much the Lover's Holiday as a day to remind everyone why you loved them.

I confess I miss something of that communal spirit of the holiday. While it would be rather overwhelming to return to making Valentines for every one of my family members, it seems more than reasonable for me to make it a general practice to send "Un-Valentines." When was the last time you got a card in the mail from someone special that wasn't for your birthday or anniversary? I certainly love getting cards for special occasions, but even more exciting is an unexpected envelope that is just for me, just because someone likes me.

I would like to make this a more common practice. I would like to make it a habit for me to tell the people who are dear to me that they are dear to me, and not just on their birthdays but all year round, too. I know that when I come to the end of my life I am never going to regret the stamps or the time making cards or the money I spend if I buy them (as Nate will tell you, I have a weakness for Papyrus cards. They call to me every time I walk into Target.)

That's why this morning my dining room table looked like this:

So... I have a proposal for you. Yes. YOU. You reading this page right now. Whoever you are. Do you like getting things in the mail (that aren't credit card offers or bills)?

Of course you do.

Would you like to get a card in the mail? A handmade card?

I will send you one.


You read that correctly. I will send you one. Even if you don't know me. You could be one of my closest friends (in which case you probably already have one or two cards from me, and I will be more than delighted to send you another!) or you might be just an acquaintance, or maybe you stumbled onto my blog by accident. It doesn't matter.


All you have to do is email me ( and tell me your address, your favorite color, and three things that make you smile and bring joy to your heart.

The catch:
(sneakily inserted after the picture, of course)

After your 100% bona fide handmade spread-the-smiles card arrives in your mailbox, you have to promise that you will pass on the love. You have to make (or buy, it doesn't matter) a card for someone dear to you, a just-because-they're-special card, and send it to them.

Perhaps, if "just because" does not seem like a good enough reason to send a card to someone, you might send her (or him) a card a wishing him (or her) a Happy End-of-Winter, or an It's-Almost-Spring card. Or a card celebrating your mutual favorite Starbucks drink. Or a "Here's to Fridays!" card. Or my favorite: a "Just-wanted-to-make-you-smile" card.

It doesn't matter. What matters is making the small, small amount of effort to make someone's day– to remind someone of how special she (or he) is, to simply celebrate the people we love and not wait for birthdays to tell them.

Will you try it with me?


  1. Okay, you will appreciate this story. So, my sister has a friend who has become my friend. We've never met--just exchanged emails, read each others' blogs, and stalked one another on Facebook. For my birthday this year, which isn't for another month, she sent a beautiful package. One to me, and one to each of my sisters! Inside were 24 handmade cards--2 for each month. Total, she made 72 cards. We each have 2 to send each sister every month for a year! For no reason--just to remind our sisters they are loved. Just like what you are doing with your cards! :) There is something special about seeing in writing that someone cares for you. :) I love that you love cards, too.

  2. Love this friend!!

  3. Blythe, I LOVE that story! So sweet!