I am obsessed with these strangely specific, yet utterly general Hallmark cards.
I first encountered them at a Walgreens in Iowa. The card was long and thin, with a backdrop of blurry purple flowers and a sentiment printed in a cousin of Lucinda Handwriting: There’s no taking back / what I did wrong. / But oh, how I wish / that weren’t true right now. / How I wish I could just say “I’m sorry” / and watch as what I’ve done wrong / disappears before our very eyes.
There were about a dozen of these cards, each a similar combination of bizarrely specific and entirely general—like a mid-range palm reader’s insights. The two largest sections were “Troubled Love” and “Suggestive Love,” and I am deeply disappointed in myself that I didn’t photograph any of the latters’ sentiments.
I used to regularly look for these cards in the Hallmark display at my local drugstore, but when drugstore trips—and all trips—became an exercise in expedience, I turned to the internet. On Hallmark’s website, I learned that the cards are part of the company’s Between You & Me collection, and which includes not only 78 cards, but also a book of their collected sentiments.
I’m fascinated by the impulse of these cards. While one might argue that the purpose of all greeting cards is to make a general sentiment feel personal, they tend to err on the side of brevity. Thinking of you in this difficult time. Sending wishes for a speedy recovery. Congratulations on being very old now.
Between You & Me, on the other hand, swings for the vaguely specific (or specifically vague) fences: I can’t get you out of my mind / I keep thinking about how much / I enjoy talking with you, / how great you look / when you smile, / and how much I like your laugh. / I daydream about you / off and on all day, replaying pieces of our conversation… / funny things you said or did. / And I catch myself smiling when I imagine what will / happen the next time / we’re together.
I think this is what I love about the cards: their commitment to doing the most and the least, simultaneously. It’s like they took a creative writing class on Zoom but the instructor kept cutting in and out. They’re showing, not telling… sort of!
It’s hard to be entirely cynical about the cards, though, when you read the reviews of Between You & Me: Love Letters to the One I Love, the aforementioned collection. One Hallmark customer wrote that the book “was a gift from my husband and I absolutely loved it. It was so meaningful and he added little comments that made me feel special. What a great gift.”
Another wrote that they bought the book as an anniversary gift for their husband, “and he loves it too. Explains exactly how we feel for each other.”
I truly cannot argue with that.