Holiday Card Message Inspection from a Past-Wannbe Greeting Card Writer

Saturday, December 25, 2021

When I first graduated from college with a B.S. in English and a M.A.E. in elementary education, I had dreams of teaching by day and writing by night. And the kind of writer that I wanted to be? A greeting card writer for Hallmark (or really any freelance card-writing gig would do). I bought a book about how to write greeting cards, and I wrote tons of ideas. I I don't even know if it was ever used.

We are at the time of year when people send cards. This doesn't happen as often for birthdays any more, and fewer people are sending Christmas cards, including myself this year because I ran out of time. So I put my holiday wishes on Facebook and called it a day.

But I love getting Christmas-holiday-New-Year's cards in the mail. And I thought it would be fun to look at some of these messages (FUN? Well, okay, interesting.), and then wonder why I could never sell an idea...

  • Wishing you a warm and snuggly, cozy, happy holiday. This card has an illustration of a mouse sleeping on top of a present, with some striped pjs on. I suppose he (or she) looks snuggly on the front of the card--definitely cute, but it wouldn't do to say: wishing you a cute, happy holiday, right? And the sentiment is nice. However, in St. Louis, it is unseasonably warm weather, so no one will want to be cozy in front of a fire with footie pajamas, or we'll look like we've been in a sweat lodge. 
  • What a year-2021. That about says it all, right? Here we are, still in the thick of the pandemic, and with the same questions we've had all along--what is it okay to do? But this card giver had a great idea and took this message in a much more positive spin--she put super cute photos of her family all over it with all the fun things they did in 2021. So she meant: What a year! (YAY!) Not: What a Year. (I'm so stressed out.) 
  • Season's Greetings: Hope You Enjoy Every Happy Thing This Season Brings: There's a little rhyme going on in this one, which is nice, and this is a good sentiment. This season does bring a lot of happy things, especially since I'm the mom of an 11-year-old who loves presents and a dog, who loves to try to help unwrap presents. And cookies--we made cookies which, of course, bring much happiness! (See photo above of 11-year-old decorating cookies!) But I know that if I was writing this card, I would have tried to make it much more complicated and come up with something other than THING. Event? Moment? Gift? Okay, thing it is.  
  • One more...I know this study of Christmas cards is fascinating...Snoopy and Woodstock are on the front, with Snoopy giving Woodstock a gift. The inside says: May the gifts of Christmas bring you happy moments and happy memories. Repeated the word happy in there--and the advice I've been giving and received forever, when writing a story or essay: don't repeat words, unless it's for rhythm and use words more precise than "happy." But it looks like Christmas and happy are together in the greeting card world. Because this is the second card (and I'm sure there are more) with happy on the inside, and in this one, they used it twice. I wonder if they could have used the rule of three and come up with: May the gifts of Christmas bring you happy moments, happy memories, and happy mimosas ? (Sticking with the m alliteration too...) 

You may be asking, if you made it this far, what in the world is this post about? (Or you may be enjoying egg nog and hiding out from your family's ugly Christmas sweater contest--what are you doing by the way?) Here's the point: 

I love getting Christmas cards, but I think it's really more about the front--the cover--the presentation and the feelings behind it--more than the words inside (or on the bottom of the photo card). And I was not meant to be a greeting card writer--I discovered it early and switched gears, and I have had a great time being a writer in other areas. 

So as you are looking at what has happened in your writing career this past year, remember, that it all builds to be the writer you are today. And if it is sprinkled with some work that didn't pan out the way you thought, no worries. You still gained experience, and you may be able to turn it into a blog post one day.

Happy holiday season to you and your family, and here's looking to a great 2022!
(Maybe you'll find that inside a greeting card one day...)

Margo L. Dill, pictured to the left at the holiday lights at Six Flags--a new family tradition to attend every year, is not a greeting card writer, living in St. Louis, MO, with her dog and daughter. She is an editor, publisher, and writer, and you can find out more about her here. Sign up for her January WOW! classes here


Andrea said...

I am the hopeful type so I don't think you should totally give up the idea of greeting cards, but do go on with the other things that make you whole. I also believe that you shouldn't give up on those Christmas cards. I'm still working on mine (I always put a personalized letter in with mine). Surely the receivers still appreciate them. I know I do!

Margo Dill said...

Thanks, Andrea! That is the way to see the glass half full for sure. :) Have a wonderful New Year!

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