Editor’s Note

As I’m writing this, I’m a few hours away from heading to the store to buy my stepdad a birthday card. Today is his birthday, so – as per usual – I have waited until the absolute last minute possible to head to the greeting card aisle.

But it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? I’ll just walk into the store, find the first of hundreds of feel-good, singing birthday cards and be on my way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

It’s quite possible that I lack the ability to properly express myself – particularly through a Hallmark card. Regardless of whose birthday, wedding, graduation or anniversary it is, my goal when buying a card is to make them laugh.

Does it always work? Of course not.

Some of my loved ones want their cards to contain poems about how special they are. Don’t get me wrong; they are special. That’s why I buy them cards. Their cards, however, probably don’t reflect that until they read a sloppily written “Love, Scott” at the end.

Much like watching and listening to the lines in a romantic comedy, the words in the sappy cards make me sick to my stomach. I can’t bring myself to buy them. So, I try to remove them from the search immediately.

The challenge becomes finding a card that’s funny but not disgusting, particularly if it’s for one of my grandparents, for example. My stepdad, thankfully, has a formidable sense of humor. My card would really have to push the limits of decency to offend him.

I also try to eliminate cards that play music from the search. My goal isn’t to annoy anyone by making them listen to “Birthday” by the Beatles every time someone reads the card.

Typically, I know the card when I see it, and I hope that’s the case tonight.

Looking at the front of the card is a good place to start.

A cover featuring flowers and the words, “For you on your special day” in pink writing doesn’t interest me. A smiling cartoon squirrel who looks like he’s up to no good, however, shows promise.

At this point, my relatives know what’s coming on their birthdays, and I expect the same thing on mine each fall. There’s nothing wrong with a good laugh, even if it’s on your special day.