I hate Hallmark cards and everything remotely resembling them. When they are congratulating someone for a birthday, they do it in the most vulgar or cliched ways. When they are soothing someone for their loss of a loved one, they seem to do it in the most hackneyed and pastel and milquetoast ways.
But the main problem with “greeting cards” as a category is that they take away our responsibility to be people of letters. While they are better than nothing (I doubt most people even bother with cards these days – I rarely do, to be honest, and I confess my sin) they also make our own inscriptions a sideshow to the vulgar expressions of somebody who sits at a desk and thinks about greeting card lines.
People once used to be writers – this was how they communicated their feelings to loved ones, friends, and colleagues. And to write these letters was one product of a liberal education, even the liberal education of middle class people. If you go back and read the correspondence that has survived from the 18th and 19th centuries, you will find ideas and descriptions and expressions of feeling that show the Hallmark writers to be Philistines.
That could be us, too.
Wouldn’t it be a better gift to our correspondents and future generations for us to leave something better than what we can get from a store shelf?