The Grey Chronicles

2008.November.30

Finding Ms. Right Card


One of my pet peeve during this time of year is when my sister’s birthday comes in. Not that I hate giving her a birthday gift, but rather finding her a birthday card can be a treasure hunt rivaling the exploits of Tom Hanks in the movie, Da Vinci Code.

In the Philippines, the Christmas season knocks on every home as early as September, when the cold front coming from China strikes the country. With that, most songs played on the radio are Christmas songs, and most commercial malls have replaced their regular greeting cards with Christmas cards.

Yesterday, I roamed around the city, visited every commercial center’s bookstore and gift shoppes hoping to find a birthday card in there. Alas, most of them have kept their birthday cards in a hidden storage and replaced their displays with Christmas cards.

I asked one sales lady, "Do you have some birthday cards?"
Apparently shocked by my question, she replied, "Sorry, sir! We only have Christmas cards!"
I said, "Ah, what’s wrong with this shop? Aren’t people celebrating birthdays this time of year?"
She replied, "You’re the first customer who said that!"
"If you don’t mind my asking: When is your birthday?"
"December 24"
"Get my point?!?"
"Yes, but usually I receive Christmas Cards instead of Birthday Card!"
"My point, exactly!"

Went to other stores, and in one of them, an aptly subtitled ‘Greetings Cards and more . . !’, the conversation was as follow:

Clerk: "We don’t sell greeting cards anymore!"
Me: "Your store name announced ‘Greeting cards and more . . . !"
He: "We ought to have changed that, but with the Holidays, no time to do it."
Me: "So what can you recommend?"
He: "Send her a gift, instead. Or use the Internet to send her a card!"
Light bulb in my head!

Frustrated, I went home, switched on my laptop, and went online. Used Yahoo to search for online birthday card sites. I remembered that on my birthday, my sister sent me an electronic card, too. Found BirthdayAlarm.com which showcase every kind of birthday cards the site could muster: flash, animated, colored, black-and-white, funny, serious, etc. Lucky the site used Yahoo email account as login, saving myself from registering yet for another account which would in all possibility be forgotten in the long run!

After an hour of browsing for the right card, I finally decided on a simple yet beautiful card. The site even gave me the opportunity to write a personal note on the card, just like in a physical Hallmark card, I wrote some personal wishes and electronically signed it. Clicked on the SEND button and logout of the site.

Interestingly, after a few hours, my sister replied a thank you note! If it were a Hallmark card sent through the snail post, she would have to use her cell phone to acknowledge that she received it. But with the Internet, the reply was almost instant. Apparently, the birthday card I sent through BirthdayAlarm also provided a reply link. Thus, the receiver–my sister–only has to click it to acknowledge its receipt.

The only problem with electronic cards is that it cannot be physically held. My sister has this cute habit of collecting cards from different occasions in addition to her coin collection. So maybe in time, she would choose to keep her coins and forego her card collection. But, maybe she would not part with this hobby just as with my stamp collection.

In retrospect, with the digital dimension existing in our lives, the physical things in the past–stamps, card, coins, books–now being digitized or transformed into 0’s and 1’s or electronic pulses, would be more expensive than the former. Just like the potteries of the Ming Dynasty or the bones of the Java Man, some things now contained in museums are truly expensive to the core or just nostalgically priceless.

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