A gift to warm my heart
By Louise Kinross
It was last Sunday, the first snow of the year, and the day before Toronto was to go back into lockdown.
I'd hopped on to Amazon, thinking that was how I'd do my shopping this year, and was surprised to see delivery date windows—if I ordered that day—extending to Dec. 24. But it was only Nov. 22!
What about cards? I often turned my photos into cards, but I didn't have an appropriate one. I walked up to Book City but they had a paucity of boxed cards. Didn't like anything in Postables. La Di Da only had 3 boxes to choose from. El Pipel had just two that didn't appeal, one was in the window display.
What was the name of that stationery store on Bayview? It was always packed with cards. This was the last day I'd be able to get in before lockdown. It was mucky wet snow outside, but I drove over anyway.
I noticed the difference as soon as I stepped inside. The store was usually packed to the gills with cards, but now, under social-distancing protocols, there were surprisingly few products and they were spread way out. I was directed to the "boxed cards" at the back and there were four or five individual boxes in the corner of a large empty wooden table. What?
"Are those ALL of your boxed cards?" I asked the salesperson, incredulously.
"Yes, I'm sorry," she said. "We've had HORDES of people coming in to buy cards."
Hordes? Were Christmas cards the new toilet paper?
I drove home, reassuring myself that I still had lots of online options. That night I spent hours scrolling for cards on Amazon and Indigo and specialty stores like Papyrus. I typed in Google searches like "British Christmas cards" and "vintage Christmas cards" looking for something I liked.
"What about Etsy?" my husband asked.
I sat in bed, laptop on lap, and scrolled through the endless pages of Etsy. My eyes latched onto an adorable sloth hanging on a tree branch, amid coloured Christmas lights, with the words "Eat, sleep and be merry!" Loved the illustration, adore sloths, but not sure the message would be suitable for all of my card recipients.
There was a surprising volume of cheesy cards, with rude jokes or terrible puns. Why would I want to send someone a card that read: "Fa la la la la la la la lhama?"
Then there were "custom cards." You could have messages inscribed inside in different colours, but the drop-down menu of "options" to choose from made me dizzy.
Finally, at 11:30, I searched "British Christmas cards" and I found a simple but elegant card with a collage of coloured lights on it, that was blank inside. It was described as "Mid Century Art, Fairy Lights."
"That's it," I screamed. I pounded in my address and credit card details, aware that the product was "almost gone" it said on the site, and three other people already had it in their "cart."
My cards, made in Brighton, U.K., would arrive by Dec. 10. it said.
I collapsed in bed.
The next night I came in to find some bags of shopping on the dining room table. My son Ben had gone to Walmart with Emilly to buy some clothes. Black is his favourite colour. In amongst the black shirts and pants I could see two packs of Christmas cards.
That's weird, I thought. Ben doesn't like sending Christmas cards.
"The Christmas cards are for you," my husband said, reading my mind.
"For me?" I hadn't mentioned anything to Ben about needing Christmas cards. But I guess he'd overheard me screeching upstairs about the rush on Christmas cards during the pandemic.
"We were walking by them when he pointed them out and signed 'Mom,'" Emilly told me.
My heart melted.
Ben came downstairs. "I love these cards," I told him, and I gave him a hug. "That was so thoughtful. But I just ordered some last night."
"Darn," he signed.
"But I love these. Thank you so much!"
Ben doesn't speak, but he'd found a way to let me know he was listening to me, and he wanted to make me happy. And he did! He said it was okay if I shared this story.