I am continually helping clients grapple with the greeting cards they have received and collected. While I have alluded to the issue in my posts over the years, my last post dedicated specifically to greeting cards was in 2012. I have just reread it, and I still agree with my advice. Give it a read here: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Greeting Cards.
In that post, I mentioned that my mother had passed away earlier that year and that I had saved all the sympathy cards people sent me. I wrote, “I treasured each personal message. Missives that reach us when we are at our most vulnerable take on a special significance. At some point in the future, I may decide to throw them away. How you react in a similar situation will depend on you.”
Eleven years later, I still have those cards. I also still have the cards that I received after my father’s passing three years later. Earlier this year, when my little dog Alfie passed away, I received quite a few sympathy cards. I was very touched that so many people reached out to acknowledge my loss. Of course I have saved those as well.
As I usually do when I get greeting cards (for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries), I displayed the cards on top of my piano. While I did quite a bit of clearing things out after Alfie’s passing in February (see Changing It Up), the cards stayed up for a while. When I finally cleared them off and got ready to put them in my memorabilia box, I was thinking about how to keep them all together. Should I use a ribbon? A rubber band? An envelope? Then my eye fell on Alfie’s bow tie.
Each time we took Alfie to the groomer, he would be sent home wearing something decorative, such as a bandana or bow tie. Often it was themed to the time of year, such as a red, white, and blue bandana in July or a Christmas-patterned bandana in December. I got into the habit of displaying the accessory around the piano lamp for a few weeks and then donating it. Alfie’s last grooming was two weeks before he died, and he came home wearing a red sparkling bow tie, presumably in honor of Valentine’s Day which was a few days later.
I decided that Alfie’s last bow tie was the perfect way to hold together the sympathy cards I had received to commemorate his passing. It was adjustable, so I was able to make it fit perfectly.
In that 2012 post about greeting cards, I concluded by saying, “It’s all about keeping what is important to you, and recycling or tossing the rest. Don’t keep anything out of guilt. Keep it because it’s something you can’t bear to part with.”