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Greeting cards part of American culture

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Posted: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 12:12 am

My mom has worked in Hallmark stores for as long as I can remember. By this point, I've learned almost as much about the company as she has.

The work can be fun with all the cute gifts and hilarious cards. However, you can also come home covered in glitter and smelling like the new, terrible candle scents that are in season. There are noise-making cards and any number of figurines that could break at any moment. As with any job, it has its ups and downs.

But do you recall the most famous downside of all?

Every holiday is ruined months beforehand.

In Hallmark world, Christmas really does start in July. Stores start selling tree ornaments early, which means they received the ornament shipments even earlier than that.

It's the worst. Anyone who works there doesn't get to complain on Nov. 1, like the rest of us, about Christmas commercials starting already. No one whines about when to start playing Christmas songs, because they've already been playing them for months.

Lights around your house all year long? Hallmark backrooms have the same problem, so no judgment here.

Don't get me wrong, I love the entire holiday season: sipping eggnog, looking at bright lights on houses, watching Claymation specials on TV. It's delightful, truly. But not for Hallmark employees. They don't get to enjoy any holiday season, ever.

I guarantee you there are boxes of Valentine's Day cards already in the storerooms of most Hallmark stores.

Some may say holidays are perpetuated or created by the greeting card industry. But let me tell you, they're not happy about it. Don't blame card and candy companies for keeping holidays alive, because at this point, they find no enjoyment in them. Holidays are simply a means to an end.

There are always new events for holidays to promote, which take up quality time during actual holiday weekends.

Then again, the stores should be grateful for those big holidays. Between e-cards and the current American apathy, I don't see a good future for most greeting card stores. Of course, it's just ingrained in all of us to buy a card for the gift we're giving, but how can that sustain so many different stores? It probably can't.

Hate the greeting card companies? Fine. Think holidays are silly? Some of them are, sure.

But both of those things are a part of American culture. We just can't let them die out so easily. We need them to remind us of those holidays. Without them, we'd be stuck with those sad Publix commercials, and I won't have that.

Not only are those Publix commercials way too sad, but grocery stores are much more necessary than greeting cards - they're in no danger of being eliminated.

Every once in a while, I'll wonder why McDonald's or Coca-Cola still run commercials and advertisements. Who hasn't heard of them by now? Everyone knows those major companies exist. But people might forget about their local greeting card store, right? Those are the ones that need to be pushing for more customers in any way possible.

Even though Hallmark isn't a "mom and pop" shop, the people who run them are moms and pops. And, just like other season-driven businesses, they rely on the public to remember and depend on them at the right time.

All companies have their faults, sorry. It's going to happen in an imperfect, capitalist economy. Maybe Hallmark isn't as "green" as you would like or as hip and happening. But you're not going to find a cool greeting card store.

So suck it up and tell someone that you're thinking about them with a puppy sitting in a boot while you listen to Michael Buble's new Christmas album. It's the American way.

Sami Main is a journalism junior at UF. Her column appears on Tuesdays.

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