50 for 50

Now that I know she’s received and opened the package, I can write about the idea I came up with for my friend K’s 50th birthday: I bought her 50 birthday cards!

I came up with this idea last summer, possibly while I was back east when my Mom was recovering from her surgery (I forget exactly when), since I realized I had almost a year to buy 50 cards, which worked out to a little more than 1 per week. I knew immediately that it was unlikely I’d actually buy the cards that regularly, but I figured if I could get two-thirds of them by, say, the end of February, then I could easily scramble to get another 15 or so cards in the final month.

One thing I realized when I had bought about 15 cards was that I needed to achieve some balance in the cards I bought. They couldn’t all be cards about age, I had to mix in some generally funny cards, and some more serious cards. When you’re only buying a card a week, it’s easy to just end up buying all the most hilarious cards, but she wouldn’t be reading them one a week, but (probably) all at once.

By February I had done a pretty good job – I had about 35 cards – and I started going through them and signing them. I discovered I had bought one card twice, but that’s the only one I doubled up on, and I had time to replace it, which I did.

I had also started telling some friends about this scheme, and to my surprise none of them had heard of anyone doing this sort of thing before. I’m sure someone has done it, but in my social circle it was a novel idea. My Dad said I should mail them all individually, but I felt that was farther than I was willing to go; instead I signed and sealed all of them, and shipped them in a box.

K wrote to me that she ended up opening a few cards a day, and found them quite funny overall. So, mission accomplished!

I’ll describe one card from the set: Debbi suggested I get a 51st card, “for luck”. Well, as luck would have it, I came across what I thought was a perfect 51st card while I was back east last month. Supposedly a quote from Satchel Paige, it read:

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

A good question for any of us.

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