Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships -December 2020 – Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words

Today I’m sharing my last edition for 2020 I wrote for Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine in my Realms of Relationship series. In this issue I delve into some of the issues we may encounter when having to give greeting cards to the ‘difficult’ people in our lives.


Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships -December 2020 – Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words


Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words


Welcome back to my Realms of Relationships Column. In last month’s article, I hinted that my next post would be on the topic of ‘No Contact’, but I’ve rescheduled that one for later as I was inspired while visiting a forum about a topic that’s a bit more seasonally related – buying greeting cards for difficult people..

The inspiration for this post stemmed from an interesting conversation I struck up in comments after reading the article. Someone was sharing about anxiety issues she had when having to buy a greeting card for her narcissistic mother. Her comment struck a note of familiarity. I got involved in the conversation with comment and was then posed an interesting question – asking me if I’d ever encountered issues when having to buy a birthday card for my mother. The writer was taking a survey of those that encountered same difficulties as she did. And did I ever!

The incident sparked some memories about my issues, the difficulties I encountered when purchasing greeting cards for my mother, and many of you here already know my issues about growing up with a narcissistic mother, you can imagine the difficulties I had choosing the appropriate card for her for any occasion. It was a sensitive task. But hopefully, many of you here didn’t have to deal with such an experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have people on your card list that you too may find it an uncomfortable task when having to choose the right card for. We want to evoke our good wishes for them, but also don’t wish to convey anything overly mushy.

Such a poignant question took me back to those years of standing in front of the card section, reading card after card, looking for just the right words—words that could evoke a cheery greeting without the mushy sentiment, yet, not sounding as though there was no sentiment. Tricky one this is.

I spent much of my life trying to dodge my mother, and at the same time tried desperately not to hurt her feelings, so choosing greetings cards for her for any occasion became an uncomfortable time for me. This was a task that churned away at my insides as my empathic side always seemed to feel sorry for her despite my desire to stay away from her. And so, for the purpose of this post, I’ll use my mother as an example of what to look for in a card. Feel free to insert the name of anyone in your life you struggle with buying a card for, with my examples.



Looking for a positive message to honor the occasion without flouting the tender words is a sensitive operation. I won’t lie, even in a greeting card. The worst anxiety of card shopping for my mother came when choosing Mother’s Day cards. You may wonder why I bothered at all, considering the anxiety it gave me choosing a card while trying to envision how it would be received by my mother. But I’d given her cards since I was a small child, and she came to expect them. I felt if I didn’t continue, I’d be worse off by both, making my mother feel bad and excluded, and I’d also be harshly reprimanded for being so inconsiderate. Mother desperately wanted to be adored, and I never wanted to hurt her, but I also would not indulge her with the flowery prose and ‘love’ words she’d expected, so I had to choose my words carefully.

The anxiety began building weeks before an occasion. What card could I buy her that would make her happy and keep me out of the doghouse? . . .

Please continue reading over at Sally’s blog


Original Source: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships -December 2020 – Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine



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16 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – D. G. Kaye Explores the Realms of Relationships -December 2020 – Say it with Greeting Cards – Treading Carefully with Words

  1. Great advice, Debby!

    As a general rule, if I pick up a card in a store and see too much verbiage inside, I put it right back. I prefer cards with a really simple message — like Season’s Greetings! — and a lot of white space for me to write my own note, specifically tailored to the recipient. I cringe at those overly wordy, sentimental greeting cards; I always prefer to provide the content. (I guess that’s the writer in me asserting my control!) I find it’s not only more personal, but I can let the message be guided by the nature of the relationship itself.

    So, my advice would be: When selecting a greeting card of any kind, for any recipient, simpler is better.


    1. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation Sean. I wholeheartedly agree. Just know, there are ‘some people’ who expect more than just a ‘simple’ greeting card. For example – my mother. 🙂 But overall I agree. Heck I spend 8 bucks on a card and end up writing all over it anyway, lol 🙂


  2. Fantastic advice, Debby. I find I steer away from too many words on a card and buy ones with a very brief message. I really feel for you in that “damned if you and damned if you don’t” situation. Toni x


    1. Thanks Toni. I do too, depending on the person. But once someone is used to receiving such cards and they become more generic, it’s noticed. Yes, such a dilemma. ❤


  3. Debby, a wise and caring post. ❤ You beautifully cover this dilemma and it's one so many of us face. Gentle humour, landscape cards and blank ones bridge the gap, as your buddies have commented here. It's the expectations of others and being seen to do 'the right thing' that can crease us. I hadn't realised the pocket of past pain and anxiety I had tucked away on this till I read your loving post. It's past now and I no longer have to manage it, so time for release. Your words and Sally's kind platform on this issue with help others still facing it and those of us who can now let it go. ❤ ❤ ❤


    1. Hi Lovely. Thanks so much for popping by and adding your thoughts to the conversation. I have no doubts you’ve encountered this dilemma. And as I mentioned in reply here to another commment, yes, landscape, blank and humorous cards are a great diversion – but still, there are some who expect more, even when we don’t feel comfortable giving more. ❤ xx


  4. Debby, so many will identify with this problem and even though not on this issue, I used to find myself spending ages looking for the perfect card! Many don’t seem to reflect on the words inside, but I do and it is important to me that they ring true for my feelings and to the person I’m giving a card.


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