There’s an entire aisle in my supermarket dedicated to greeting cards. There are so many cards it makes you wonder if people have suddenly started celebrating birthdays two to three times a year. But no, it’s probably because in the same space as a 69-cent can of garbanzo beans, the grocery store can cram in ten greeting cards that sell for $3 apiece, even more, if you go for the fancy cards that talk and sing and fold like origami ducks.
The other reason for such a glut of greeting cards is that they get more and more specific over the years. Cards that used to just say “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” have slowly evolved. From a simple “Happy Birthday” we’ve gone to “Happy Sweet Sixteen” to “Happy Birthday to my Grandson” to “Happy Birthday to My Niece” to “Happy Birthday to My Boss” to “Happy Birthday to My Second Cousin Twice-Removed” to “Happy 22nd Birthday, Evil Step-Mother” to “Happy Birthday to my Birth Mother.”
Every category has suffered from greeting-card creep. At first there were cards for high school graduations, little money-holding envelopes that you’d slide $5 or $10 into and hand to the grateful grad. Now if it doesn’t contain a crisp, new $100, you risk a shunning. And that’s a hundred for each graduation -- kindergarten, first grade, middle school, high school, college, med school, law school and business school.