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Friday, July 15, 2016

Is Hallmark killing communication?


A friend's mother passed away this week, necessitating a trip to the Hallmark store for a sympathy card.

Where I was greeted with the above signage. Uh-oh!

I have ranted before about how hard it is to find a simple sympathy card. One that leaves you plenty of room to write note of condolence.

This time, prodded by the "Grief Support" sign, I paid more attention to Hallmark's offerings.

There were about a hundred different cards, mostly in pastel hues, with images of balloons floating into the sky, pastel flowers, or hazy landscapes of paths in woods.

More than that, they seemed to be targeted: loss of mom, loss of husband, loss of sister, loss of pet, and so forth. A few display tags were marked with a small cross or Star of David -- to indicate the sentiments were religious -- but most were not so tagged.

Inside, the cards were filled with treacly "sentiments". Yuk!

I learned about writing condolence notes from my favorite aunt, Irene. My mother was not good at it; my father, like other men when I was growing up, looked down on such chores as "women's work".

But Aunt Irene made letter-writing of all kinds an art form.

When writing a condolence note, she thought both about the person who had passed and the person to whom she was sending the note. She talked about how she missed the deceased, mentioned some strength of character and shared a favorite story about them (often funny). She offered to help. And then she put it in the mail.

And immediately made a covered dish or a cake or pie to take to the grieving family.

Then I thought, "Maybe Hallmark knows something I don't."

Maybe we don't know how to handle this kind of communication any more in this day of texts and Tweets. Maybe we need those manufactured sentiments to fill the void we no longer have the skills for.

Maybe Hallmark is not killing communication; maybe it is simply acknowledging its demise.

While turning a profit, of course

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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