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This Guy's a Real Card

By Jerry Zezima

If I ever got a job at Hallmark, the greeting card company that helps people express their true feelings on such important occasions as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays like National Beer Day, which is April 7 but for me can be any day, I’d suggest a line of humorous sympathy cards. Like this one:

Violets are blue,
Roses are red.
Sorry to hear
Your goldfish is dead.

Now you know why Hallmark would never lower its otherwise high standards to pay me actual money to write greeting cards. But there should be some interest in hiring my wife, Sue, who has started writing her own greetings, which she calls Nini’s Homemade Cards.

She made the first one for me on Valentine’s Day. Instead of buying a card, which would keep Hallmark in business, Sue folded a sheet of pink construction paper in half, cut out a red  and pink heart from other sheets of paper, glued it to the front of the card and wrote this sentiment inside:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I made this valentine
Just for you!!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Love you!!

Not quite as moving as my dead-goldfish card, but I appreciated her effort. So, more recently, did our grandchildren Xavier and Chloe, for whom Sue, known to all five of our grandkids as Nini, made colorful birthday cards, even using sparkles on the covers.

Such brilliant creativity made me think Sue could work for Hallmark. So I called the company and was put in touch with Andrew Blackburn, who writes greeting cards for a living.

“What your wife has done with her cards is impossible at Hallmark,” said Blackburn, 32, who has been writing for the company for 11 years.

“Wow, I guess that means she’s unique,” I said.

“What makes what your wife did meaningful and special is that she took the time to do it herself,” Blackburn said diplomatically. “But what we have to do is not only tap into what makes a card meaningful to an individual person, but tap into universal specifics.”

“It sounds like she wouldn’t be an ideal fit at Hallmark,” I said.

“They’re smart enough not to let me make those decisions,” said Blackburn, a personable guy who has created some outstanding cards, including a Father’s Day classic.

On the cover, which features a picture of a smiling brother and sister on a swing, it says: “A good dad lets his kids play outside.”

On the inside, it says: “A great dad lets them back in. Happy Father’s Day to a great dad.”

“I don’t remember if I wrote that one before I had kids or after,” said Blackburn, who has two sons, ages 6 and 4. “But now there are moments when I realize the truth of it.”

He also realizes he is in a unique position never to forget his wedding anniversary.

“I write greeting cards, so I’d have no excuse,” said Blackburn, who has been happily married to his wife, Becca, for as long as he has been working at Hallmark.

“She’s super supportive and loves what I do,” he said.

“Would she be interested in writing greeting cards like my wife does?” I wondered.

“No,” said Blackburn. “She leaves that to me.”

“I think Sue will leave that you, too,” I said. “That way, she can continue to write cards for the family and you can keep your job.”

“It’s a win-win,” Blackburn said.

“Maybe you can start writing cards for such important holidays as National Beer Day,” I suggested. “And don’t forget those humorous sympathy cards.”

“Don’t worry,” Blackburn said. “If your goldfish dies, you will have my sympathy.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of five books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures and Every Day Is Saturday, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

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