I do not buy greeting cards. Ever. This has been true for most of my entire life.
I was something like nine years old when my mom got into stamping and card-making, a rabbit hole from which there may be no return once the embossing gun is purchased and the fancy scissors are out. The kitchen counters would be cleared, friends would come over, copious amounts of coffee and chocolate would be consumed as we cut and stamped and colored and glued. Move over Hallmark, Amanda Kuehn Cards is up and running.
In addition to being moderately crafty as a grade school student, I also had a brief penchant toward entrepreneurship. I didn’t have much use for money in a family that provided for all of my basic needs and then some, but I loved earning it. Any chance to make and sell sounded like a good one to me. (Largely because it validated my efforts to create). I bundled up my cards, brought them to school and sold them at recess and in the hallways before the bell rang. No one ever seemed to mind. And paying no overhead fees myself (until my mother caught on and asked me to purchase my own card stock), it was pure profit.
Around the time I began making cards, I also started writing poetry—lovely little singsongy ditties that personalized the greeting card experience. I crafted poems for birthdays and holidays, and wrote full family Christmas letters in rhyme. I never viewed greeting cards in the same way. Why would I leave something as important as expressing my heart-felt sentiments to a writer who didn’t even know me, much less the recipient of my greeting?
I grew older and busier and began recycling cards that had been given to me by others, clipping and keeping the personal messages that I valued, while passing along the kittens, puppies, and baskets of flowers that graced the other panel. I wrote on the backs myself, making a vow that the next time I used formal greeting cards it would be because I was working for Hallmark and had written them myself.
Then I found Good Paper, and all prior greeting card notions were once again up for debate. Though I still retain that I “could do better” at expressing myself with a notecard and a pen than I could through any number of $3 Hallmark cards, I could not do better at bringing peace, promoting justice, or passing along hope than I could through purchasing a Good Paper card. Good Paper cards do not just send artwork or bring smiles, they offer an opportunity for a different kind of life for the women and children who create them.
Being a graduate student without infinite money, I was not able to purchase a Good Paper card for everyone I wanted to this holiday season, but I did, for the first time in my life, purchase a box of Christmas cards. They are beautiful. Truly beautiful, with their bright red birds and perfectly pointed trees, their winter wonderlands and “peas on earth” puns. But my favorite part is the signature on the back. The human mark that connects me here in the cold, wet Christmas-bedecked Midwest to someone in the dry heat of the Philippines. She touched this, I think, fingering the edges of the Christmas tree and running my index over the Sharpeed alias on the back. This woman touched this card and now this card is touching me.
Life is about the small miracles as much (or maybe more) than it is about the large ones. This year, Good Paper is one of mine.