I got ambushed by a greeting card. The H@llmark shop is a dangerous place for me. Any rack of cards can hold treacherous expressions of sentiment that can trigger intensely painful memories and emotions. When I have to enter the place I can usually steel myself to run the gauntlet, put on blinders to look at only the section that is relevant and avoid the obvious pitfalls. but once in a while one card strays out of its category, hides out under cover of mingling with a different crowd, and surprises me.

The most recent attack came not from “H@llmark” but from another brand - an innocuous-looking birthday card designed for a son:

“You are loved for the little boy you were,
the special man you are now,
and the wonderful son you’ll always be.”

It is warm and loving and perfect – and absolutely foreign to my experience growing up or my treatment as an adult. I can’t even imagine receiving such a message – but crave it all the more because of its impossibility.

I’ve always had problems finding suitable cards for my parents – most of the time I settled for one with a nice picture on the front and just a minimal greeting – “happy birthday” or “happy mother’s day” – or whatever. They don’t make cards for what I really feel about them – “If you enjoyed the way you screwed up my life, then at least one of us got something out of it!” … or worse things that I can think of!

My wife wanted to send valentine cards to all our family members. For our kids and their spouses and the odd aunt and uncle - that is OK with me. But she wanted to send one to my mom (the only remining parent on either side) – I am not OK with that. My mom was a silent, passive accomplice, in my eyes – to the step-dad’s abuse, nearly as guilty as he was because of her refusal to admit what was going on – and her refusal to intervene. I don’t want to send her a card that gushes over how much I love her or how she is the best mom in the world – or even wishes her a generic happy day. The card was sent, despite my opposition – i said – “I don’t want to – but if you do – I just don’t care.” At least I didn’t have to pick it out.

At what point is it OK to ignore the nice conventions of polite society, quit doing all the things that are expected – and honestly speak and act the way you truly feel – in keeping with the reality of the situation and relationship?

How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3