I love mail. Whenever I hear the metallic clink of the mailman’s key opening our rusty boxes in the hallway I race to the door like a dog expecting the arrival of its master. Mail is what gets me up in the morning and what beckons me home at night. And I don’t care what kind it is either: magazines, Value Pak coupons, letters from my alma mater requesting donations because they think I am wealthy and successful thanks to the education they provided. Whatever it is, I’ll gladly accept it.
I find mail to be especially wonderful at this time of year because people send me cards and gifts and money for Christmas and my birthday.
The other day I received a catalog for 1-800-FLOWERS, the latest issue of The Economist and a card from my dad in the mail. I felt the envelope for money or a gift card, but it was too hard to tell. It was still a bit early in the season to receive something but my Dad always wants to be the first to get Christmas gifts our or to wish his children a happy birthday. I think one time he called me twice in January to wish me happy birthday for that year and for the following.
I dropped all of my things inside the apartment and ripped open the envelope, all the while guessing how much money was inside. Thirty one dollars for my 31st birthday, $100 for Christmas and my birthday combined…I couldn’t wait to see how much. But as I read through the first lines of the card, my mood turned from excitement to confusion.
WITH LOVE TO A SPECIAL DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW the card read. It was white with pink roses on the bottom and there was an image of a sunset on the beach in the upper right hand corner. There were none of the usual holiday identifiers like Christmas trees or stars or even baby Jesus. And how did my dad find a Christmas card that was so specific to a daughter and son-in-law?
YOUR HEARTS HOLD ALL THE WONDERS THAT MAKE MARRIED LIFE SO GOOD
AND BRING YOU CLOSER EVERY DAY, THE WAY THAT TRUE LOVE SHOULD…
I opened it to the inside where there were two more pages of this cryptic writing. There was no check or gift card in sight. I shook the card like a monkey waving a banana peel, but nothing dropped out. Skimming the remainder of the words, my eyes moved over to my dad’s signature, above which it read HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.
I had completely forgot. Which is strange because we got married on the same day that Christopher Hitchens died and I swore that I would never forget that day.
*Take your time with that last joke, it took Sebastien a few seconds to get it, too.