Whoa, whoa, whoa! What do you think you’re doing there, guy? We’re your children’s homemade greeting cards. You weren’t going to throw us out, were you?
Let’s not do anything rash. That’s right, put the papers down. Yes, we realize you haven’t looked at us in 15 years and you just happened to stumble upon us while clearing out a dresser drawer. But come on, man! Look at that flower! Or maybe it’s a tree. Yes, see? It reads “The Tree of Love!!!”
The Tree of Love, man! You can’t throw away the Tree of Love!
Sure, we’re essentially clutter. Sure, your children made us at school, likely under duress. Here’s one, for instance, where your daughter appeared to be struggling to meet a specific word count:
Today is a special day for you, I don’t know why it’s today but I’m glad it’s today because for a person like you, you deserve a special day! So today I want you to know that you’re my favorite dad in the hole universe! Happy Fathers Day!
In case you’re wondering, the special day is today and it’s special.
But do we cards come from the heart? You bet we do! Are we sincere? Mostly! Are we factual? That’s questionable!
[translated from French]
I made you a crocodile because you like to see the crocodiles like at the zoo. Happy Father’s Day. I give you a present and you give me a present on my birthday.
Who knows? Maybe you said crocodiles were cool that one time. Maybe you didn’t. The important thing is that something made an impression on your daughter and she took the time to translate that possibly misinterpreted moment into a drawing of you, constructed like an inukshuk, for some reason poking a crocodile with a stick.
Look, this isn’t about accuracy. Instead, we cards are a snapshot of your child’s impressions at a particular time in their lives, even if those impressions seemed to be a random grocery list thought up quickly in class while waiting for the recess bell.
[translated from French]
I love you with all my red heart. I like playing with you, you are strong, patient and good looking. Your hair is really soft. I like when you help me play the piano. You are funny when you talk like Donald, Mickie mouse’s friend at Christmas
Seriously, when was the last time someone told you your hair was soft? Weren’t you happy to be reminded of that after all this time, you good looking, funny person, you?
We are profound, man! Look at this birthday card. Yes, it’s a page torn out of a spiral notebook and folded in half, probably assembled in a panic at the last minute.
Happy birthday Dad
I wish you a
how are you say
yes or no!
I love you!
That’s childhood right there. Everything was so simple. You were either feeling yes or you were feeling no. Now your children are grown and buffeted about by life’s ambiguities. We homemade cards are an opportunity for you to recall the times when they were innocent and could draw a birthday cake with four different colours of icing.
Okay, we can negotiate. This piece of paper that says, “Papa, je t’aime!” could be from any one of the kids. It was probably presented to you with great fanfare and accepted with a big ol’ hug. And then what? You couldn’t put it immediately in the recycling because you’re not a heartless beast. So, in the drawer it went. But the statute of emotional limitations has passed. It can go.
But this! You can’t throw this one out. It’s unsigned, true, a simple message in purple marker, but look at it!
Mom and DaD I love you somuch!…and my heart is fillgn happy… ♥
This next one is laminated! Laminated! You can’t toss a laminated Father’s Day certificate.
[translated from French]
I will never forget all the beautiful things you have done for me. You helped me learn how to walk, you comforted me when I was sad, you played with me when I was alone, etc.
You, sir, are the etcetera in your children’s lives. We homemade cards are the reminder of that. And let’s not forget their surprising wisdom:
Happy Valentine’s Day Dad
Don’t eat too much chocolate if you do, you will barf
Okay, we’re glad you’ve come to your senses. That’s right, put us all tidily together in a manilla envelope and slide us back in storage along with the elementary school notebooks your mother saved and the old stamp albums you can’t seem to throw away. And maybe in another decade or so you will pull us out again, and we guarantee your heart will be fillgn happy. ♥
You’ve kept the homemade cards, and you probably still have that green shirt as well. 🙂
Now that you mention it…
I see the Basquiat influences and totally get the crocodile as a disruptive art technique but am puzzled by the wharf-ish platform your figure is squatting upon. Is it a large molar? A pair of parsnips with yellowing foliage, the dagger-like shapes suggesting aggression and danger? Or are we meant to think of a visual pun with pier and peer, as we look and look for meaning?
It’s a fine Lyle the Crocodile, he looks totally pacifistic in contrast to the squat, black-booted figure menacing him with a sharp stick. Wow there’s a lot to analyze here.
Ah yes, well you managed to ride the tiger of sentimentality there quite elegantly, if one can ride tigers in that manner, which you did just now riding that tiger, it was quite elegant how you wrote it
That was beautiful.
“etc.” Love a kid who likes brevity!
I had such fun reviewing these again.
Loved this! In particular, the point of view from the cards desperate not to be thrown away. Also, you gave me a fun new word: inukshuk. I wonder if I can use it in Scrabble. (Though, I may not remember how to spell it when the time comes. But how could you not want a word that allows you to use to U’s and a K? It would be a sacrilege not to!)
I sure hope it’s a legit word. Isn’t it a beaut? Fun to say, too.
Ross, this hit home in so many ways. I recently stumbled upon a giant plastic sealed tub, reminiscent of the Ark of the Covenant. Inside were stone tablets… ok, they were cards, art, etc., by the kids. I’m so glad you wrote this because it underscored my inability to toss them, shred them or even burry them in the sands of Tunisia. Just like those 1990s Levis I keep in the closet that I can’t wear anymore, they are a reminder of a sweeter, gentler time when things fit a certain way but, alas, never will fit that way again. Good call, decision, etc.
Whatever you do, don’t stare directly at them!
Thanks, Ned. Had fun going through the old things.
(Did you just order a book?)
Hahaha! And yes, I did order book about becoming a jerk. Figured I could use the advice in what has continued to be our parallel universe. Looking forward to reading it!
Had to brush the dust off the ol’ Amazon Seller account! Will get it to you ASAP.
No worries! And don’t worry about making me a card or anything…
I don’t have any of the old cards. But the other day, I unearthed a plaster turtle my daughter made when she was 5. It’s currently residing in a cubby on the cat tree that the cats don’t use.
That sounds perfectly sensible.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this!!! So beautiful and so filled with happiness and well-timed sarcasm. I’m so glad the handmade cards “spoke” to you because it made my day. Really needed that. Thank you!
I’m so glad. It was fun to write too.