Tag Archives: greeting card sayings

Hanukkah Hubris

It is early August and my craft table is awash in a sea of blue and white card stock.  No, I’m not scrapbooking about a recent vacation at the beach.   What I am doing is working on this year’s crop of Hanukkah cards.  Although Hanukkah is still 4 months away, I want to get them up on my Etsy store now so shoppers will have a chance to see them before the actual holiday.

Blue is one of my favorite colors, so I am enjoying this project.  But as someone who does not celebrate Hanukkah, I am challenged to know whether or not the end results are anything those who do celebrate the holiday would want to share with others.    I guess only time will tell.  As I search online for suggested sayings for Hanukkah cards I find it interesting that many sayings sound suspiciously like the generic phrases that might go into Christmas cards, including: “good tidings at Hanukkah.”  Seriously?

These others seem much more thematically appropriate:

  • Wishing for the festival of lights to shine down on you and your family
  • Happy Hanukkah from all of us to your beautiful family.  May these eight days of celebration bring peace and joy to your household
  • May the Menorah candles shine bright in your life.  Remember the miracle they represent. Best wishes.
  • May this Hanukkah fill your home with faith, light, freedom and love.
  • May your home grow brighter, your faith grow stronger, and your hearts be warm with each candle you light.

Perhaps this is why on the second page of my search results there was a link to a blog post about whether Hanukkah cards were simply the further corruption of that minor holiday into something it’s not: a card-worthy end of the year holiday – i.e. Christmas as well as the New Year (as opposed to the Jewish New Year which occurs in the fall).

Am I assisting in this co-oping process by adding my own cards to the mix?  Probably, but if so, I am hardly the first – commercial card makers, major retailers and advertisers have been at it long before me — and I doubt I will be the last.  But as I ponder the issue it does put a damper on my Hanukkah card making enthusiasm and I wonder if it’s even worth it.

Just as I wonder any time I put a card up on my Etsy site — if I’m ever going to make a difference with them.  I’d like to think, major or minor holiday, birthday or just because, there is always a reason to send a card to someone.  Just to let them know they are on your mind.  There are few things better (at least to me) than to open the mailbox at the end of the day and find amongst all the catalogs and advertising flyers an envelope with familiar handwriting on it – from a friend or a family member and to discover it’s a card or letter from them.  [Of course as I write this I realize I don’t necessarily practice what I preach and am rather negligent in my own reaching out, except for the two most important people in my life.  The others I connect to by e-mail or phone, if that.]

When I first started making cards, I had grand plans; I was going to change the world with my cards; people were going to use them to write things of great import and with great impact on those who received them.  Um….yeah, right.  I’ve often heard that the way to make God laugh is to tell him your plans.   He obviously has not agreed that this is my grand purpose in life.   I wonder what is.


Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) Stampin’ Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles.  Images (c) by Stampin' Up!

Handmade Hanukkah Card by Certain Smiles. Images (c) by Stampin’ Up!

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Filed under About Me, Card Making, Card Sayings, Hanukkah Cards

Mother’s Day Card Messages

If your mom is as special as mine is, you’ll no doubt want to let her know that when you send her this year’s Mother’s Day card.  But how do you sum up all her wonderful qualities and let her know how important she is to you in just a few written lines?  Well, first off, I hope Mother’s Day isn’t the only day of the year you tell her how you feel about her!  If not, then you won’t be trying to fit a year’s worth of sentiment into one card.   Still, it’s nice to be able to find just the right thing to say that perfectly sums up your relationship and that’s often hard to come up with on your own.

I’m not foolish enough to think I could come up with such concise and pithy statements on my own.  There are just too many types of mothers and too many types of mothering relationships out there to even begin to cover them all myself.  Luckily, others have tackled this important subject and here are three sites I found with some excellent choices to use in Mother’s Day cards:

Hallmark Mother’s Day Messages

Flower Shop Network Mother’s Day Messages

Blake Flannery Mother’s Day Messages

Happy writing!

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Some Thoughts on Valentine’s Day Cards

Oops!  I realized this morning as I walked through the drug store – and passed the blazing red Valentine card display – that this was a golden opportunity to post to my blog — and I’d almost totally forgotten about it!  Not like this isn’t one of the biggest card holidays of the year – with, according to the Greeting Card Association, 145 million “units” purchased annually.

But what to write about it? Suggestions for what to write in your card? Maybe some other time, when I haven’t forgotten the occasion and have more time to prepare — like next January…. In the meantime, there are loads of other sites out there that do that.  Just check Google.

No, that’s been done before.  So here are some random thoughts on Valentine’s, for what they are worth.

1.  Apparently the origins of St. Valentine’s Day are not well known and there are conflicting facts and theories about it.  But regardless of its origins, it is generally agreed that by the Middle Ages, February had become a month of romance and Valentine greetings were being exchanged.   Interestingly, according to History.com, by the 1900s, printed cards became popular, in part, because they were “an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged.”  Now, on Twitter and Facebook, people just bare all!  I wish they’d just do it privately in a card….

2.  I think at some point the card, candy and jewelry industries hijacked Valentine’s Day.  I remember the few years after my dad passed away loathing commercials around Christmas time — no matter what product they were selling, they all promoting the themes of family and togetherness.  Intellectually, I knew the people in them were just actors, had no relationship to each other, and the snow was fake, but emotionally, they tugged at my heart – for the opportunities never to come and for the reality that never existed.  It’s the same way with Valentine’s Day.  Watch TV from mid-January through mid-February and you’re bombarded with reminders that she’ll love you forever for getting her that sparkly, pretty this or that to put on her ears, finger, wrist, or neck.  And that if you’re a woman who doesn’t have a guy to buy you that bling, well, suck it up sweetie, because everyone else but you has someone who will (or so society / Hollywood / advertising would lead you to believe).    If you want to read an incredible blog post by a very insightful and intelligent young woman along the lines of this subject, check out my niece’s blog, Within the Ivory Palace.

3.  Try as they might, Hallmark doesn’t always say it best.  I’ll admit it; I’m one of the lucky ones.  After many, many years of not having anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with, I am now blessed to have found a “special someone”.  I’ve already made a card for him.  He hates glitter, so it’s nothing too frilly, but I think it’s something he’ll like.   But when I was at the store I thought, well maybe I’ll just take a look and see if there is something here that I should get as well, something that just hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing our relationship.  Well, I stood there for at least 10 minutes picking up card after card (yes, even the ones with glitter).  Some had multiple paragraphs, about love and relationships, shared history, shared memories, not saying I love you enough, wishing to spend more time together, and more.  The whole gamut of emotions regarding romantic relationships printed up just waiting for a signature…. yet none of them fit.  Oh sure, some fit in part.  I’d think, yeah, that’s perfect, but then the next line would be totally not us.  I even walked away and then returned, thinking maybe I’d missed something.  But no, I hadn’t.   What I write in my card to him probably won’t be as flowery – or as long – it may simply be “Happy Valentine’s Day”.  I probably said more in the “Thank You” card I sent him card a few weeks ago where I thanked him for bringing out the best in me.   But whatever I say, it will be better than letting Hallmark do it for me.

4.  Some of the best Valentine’s I’ve ever received have been (a) unexpected, (b) from friends, and (c) from my cats.  Yes, my cats.  You see, Valentine’s Day is for celebrating love – of all sorts.  Not just the mushy romantic stuff forced down our throats by people trying to sell stuff because it’s one of their biggest revenue generators of the year (see point 2 above).  A card from a friend letting them know how much you value their friendship or a card to your parents or kids is just as important.  And yes, my mom does help out the cats with their cards to me — and because she captures their personalities so perfectly with what “they” write and has such a fun sense of humor about it, they are some of my most treasured cards from her/them.

So, as usual, my suggestion is to write from the heart.  Sure, go online and get some ideas as to what to say, but don’t let Hallmark or anyone else do all the talking for you.  And don’t let anyone tell you whether or not you can celebrate Valentine’s Day based on your relationship status.  Everyone has someone in their life (I hope!) worth celebrating a relationship with — a friend, coworker, sibling, parent, or romantic partner.  Even if you don’t do it in writing, or otherwise formally acknowledge it on Valentine’s Day, at least say a little prayer of thanks for that blessing in your life.

Everyone deserves a Valentine's Day card like this one.  Image c. Stampin' Up!

Everyone deserves a Valentine’s Day card like this one. Image c. Stampin’ Up!


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Filed under About Me, Card Sayings, Valentine's Day Cards

Encouraging Words for the Job Seeker

But enough about me already!   You hopefully came to this blog to be inspired, not to get bogged down in my insecure ramblings about my own self doubts. So it’s time to turn my attentions outwards. And as I look ahead at the New Year, I also reflect on all the things I have to be thankful for – such as my friends and family, my health, my job. Yes, my job. You see, I have a great boss, work I enjoy doing, and a fairly flexible schedule (thanks to that wonderful boss). But best of all, and something I remind myself of on those days when (and come on, admit it, we all have them) the work isn’t the most thrilling thing I’d like to be doing. Still, I tell myself, at least I have a job and it pays the bills.

You see, I have a very good friend who has been out of work for eight months now. His unemployment benefits ran out a couple of months ago, he’s back living at home to limit expenses, and he’s almost gone through all of his emergency savings. Now something as simple as an invitation out to dinner can be a cause for discomfort because he’s on a really tight budget and doesn’t want to be doing any unnecessary spending.

He’s a great guy with a fabulous attitude and a strong faith. With every interview he’s brimming with confidence that this will prove to be “the one”; only to be disappointed. Still, his faith allows him to believe that there will be another interview and a job for him – soon. I share that belief. But the waiting is tough sometimes. I know despite all his optimism, every now and then he gets discouraged.

At those times, I wish I had magic words; some phrase or nugget of wisdom that would make it all better. For the most part, I’ve learned he really just needs someone to listen. That there is nothing to say that will “fix” things. But maybe there are some things that could be said that might offer some hope and encouragement. Perhaps not to be said at the moment when he is at his lowest – anything said then would no doubt come off as trite and clichéd – but maybe in a card or note sent by way of encouragement at some other point during this difficult time of unemployment.

So with that in mind, here are almost two dozen of the best sayings / quotations I came across that would be appropriate for job seekers / someone who’s unemployed / has lost their job:

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” –Alexander Graham Bell

“When God takes away something, remember that He is ensuring that your hands are free to grab new opportunities” –Author unknown


“Getting fired is nature’s way of telling you that you had the wrong job in the first place.” Hal Lancaster

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show us how badly we want something.” Randy Pausch


“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” –Albert Einstein


“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” –Helen Keller


“God uses suffering as a whetstone, to make men sharp with.“ –Henry Beecher


“The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.” –Bernard Baruch


“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” –Helen Keller


“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” –Harriet Beecher Stowe


“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be only the beginning.” –Ivy Baker Priest
“Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” –Aldous Huxley


“Instead of giving myself reasons why I can’t, I give myself reasons why I can.” –Author unknown


“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.” –Claude Bissell


“A diamond is merely a lump of coal that did well under pressure.” –Author unknown


“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” –Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha


“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” –Henry Ford


“The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.” –Thomas Carlyle


“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” –Dale Carnegie


“Understand that it is ok to be scared or uncertain, however right beyond those barriers ultimately lies your dreams.” –Josh Hinds


“It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.” –Vince Lombardi


“Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.” –African proverb


“You don’t have to figure out how it’s going to happen. It may not work on paper; there may not be a logical solution. In the natural, you don’t see a way, but that’s not your job; your job is to believe”–Joel Osteen

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” –Suzy Kassem


Here are links for some of the sites where I found these. The first was the most useful.






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Filed under Card Sayings, encouraging quotes

What to Say in a Sympathy Card

As promised in my last post, here are some phrases and quotes to use in sympathy cards, culled from the gazillion of websites out there that present the exact same information (and a few from my Stampin’ Up! stamps). I’ve simply chosen my favorites. Perhaps the best site I found out there on the subject, providing detailed step-by-step instructions, and innumerable sample phrases, is not unsurprisingly by Hallmark.


  • You are in my thoughts
  • My thoughts and prayers are with you
  • Thinking of you
  • Thinking of you during this difficult time
  • With heartfelt condolences
  • May your memories bring you peace
  • My heart goes out to you in your time of sorrow
  • With thoughts of peace and courage for you
  • Words seem inadequate to express the sadness I feel about [deceased’s] death. I am here to for you as you grieve
  • May your heart and soul find peace and comfort
  • Peace, Prayers and Blessings
  • Wishing you peace to bring comfort, courage to face the days ahead and loving memories to forever hold in your hearts
  • May you be comforted by the outpouring of love surrounding you
  • May peace and comfort find you during this difficult time
  • I am very saddened to hear of your loss
  • I am thinking of you as you celebrate [deceased’s] wonderful life and the memories you shared
  • Extending my heartfelt condolences to you at this difficult time
  • Grief is the reminder that we loved and were loved
  • I am lucky to have known someone it was so hard to say goodbye to


  • Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow.Robert Louis Stevenson
  • We meet no ordinary people in our lives – C. S. Lewis
  • What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us. – Helen Keller
  • The greatest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude. – Thornton Wilder
  • Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. – From a headstone in Ireland
  • In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing. –Robert Ingersoll
  • To live in hearts we leave behind. Is not to die. – Thomas Campbell, “Hallowed Ground”
  • For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. –William Penn
  • Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted. – Matthew 5:4
  • They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies. – William Penn
  • Tears water our growth. – William Shakespeare
  • Say not in grief ‘he is no more’ but live in thankfulness that he was – Hebrew proverb
  • Love is eternal, the aspect may change, but not the essence. Vincent Van Gogh
  • They are not gone who live in the hearts of others – Native American Proverb
  • Though nothing can bring back the hour, of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind. – William Wordsworth


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Some Thoughts on Sympathy Cards

This has been a week that has gone out of its way to remind me of the fragility of life. In national news, a well known celebrity who had struggled throughout his career with both depression and addiction lost his battle with those foes and committed suicide; in regional news, a wrong way driver on the New York State Thruway slammed into an oncoming car, killing both himself and the other driver; and in even closer to home news, a friend and fellow Stampin’ Up! demonstrator learned that one of her customers was the victim of a murder / suicide. (I later learned that the victim was the sister of another Stampin’ Up! demonstrator in the area, though I don’t know that woman personally.)

Now while none of these incidents affected me directly, coming right on top of each other, they have had me doing a lot of thinking (not to mention a lot of praying for all involved) about what if I had known the victims and/or their families. What possibly could be said in a note or card that could be of any comfort?

Sympathy cards can be hard to write even in the “best of times”. Wait. Is there such a thing when a death is involved? But I hope you understand what I mean. When the death is not unexpected; when the person has lived a full and “good” life; when there is something to be celebrated (the life lived) rather than mourned (the death itself). But even then, death can be an uncomfortable subject and finding “just the right words” hard to do.

One of the most important rules, perhaps the most important rule, is to say something, anything. This is not an occasion you can ignore, like your cousin’s 34th birthday; the cousin you last saw when you were both teenagers. No, a death should be acknowledged. As I’ve seen written elsewhere – it’s not like those affected by the death will have forgotten it’s happened and you’ll be “reminding” them of it by sending them a card. No, you’ll be letting them know they have people who care about them, who are thinking about them.

I remember when my dad died how much each card meant. I hadn’t let many people know he was ill. In fact, practically no one knew. Not even my closest friends. And definitely none of my co-workers. I didn’t want to be asked over and over again “how’s your dad doing”, because I wasn’t sure I would be answering that question with the proper amount of caring and concern (whatever that means; what can I say, I was young and insecure and didn’t want to be judged every time by my response). How I wish now I had said something. I think I hurt feelings, particularly those of my friends, by not letting them know what I was going through.

So each card I received, particularly those from co-workers, who I hadn’t expected to hear a thing from, meant a great deal to me. They had gone out of their way to reach out to me. I figure the few who did send me cards maybe had some experience in their own background that made them understand my silence on the subject, so they wanted to let me know they were there for me, if I did need someone. It’s been over 21 years since my dad died and I can still name the handful of co-workers who sent me cards. Obviously it made a big impression.

I also remember my mom’s friend who sent me a “thinking of you” card the first Father’s Day after my dad passed away. She told me someone had done the same for her after her dad died, and she remembered how comforting it was, since the mourning doesn’t end right after the death. It continues and is particularly raw on all those “firsts” without your loved one – first Father’s Day / Mother’s Day first Thanksgiving, first birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays you used to celebrate together, etc.

So that’s suggestion number two: don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Again, the people involved won’t have forgotten. In my Christmas card last year to a friend whose sister had died unexpectedly the previous spring I didn’t simply wish her a Happy Christmas, and that all be merry and bright. Because I was pretty sure, having just lost her sister eight months earlier, it was going to be a more somber occasion than usual. Instead, I said something along the lines of “No doubt you will be missing your sister this Christmas. May you find comfort and peace in your memories and the company of your friends and family.”

Rule number three is practical advice that I’ve learned over the years (before becoming my own card maker): Always have a supply of sympathy cards on hand at home, just in case. It can be kind of embarrassing to be standing in the card aisle of a store with tears streaming down your face as you try to pick out an appropriate sympathy card. The degree to which the tears flow is usually in direct proportion to how close you were to the deceased and/or the person you are sending the card to. This is why I tend to stick to blank cards when I do have to buy them – no pre-written sentiments to make me cry in the store. But even then there is a risk – as I think about the individuals involved, the general sadness of the situation, and how I would feel in their shoes, the tears still tend to flow.

And, getting back to my opening thoughts, what would I write in my blank cards? First off, if it were a violent, unexpected death, I’d be honest: “I can’t begin to imagine all the emotions you must be going through at this time.” And I’d be supportive: “You haven’t been very far from my thoughts since [Alan’s] passing. And my prayers too.

Then, and this is for any type of death, it depends on the relationship to the deceased / survivors. For example:

  • A reference to a personal memory about the deceased: “[Alan] had such talents for friendships and cooking.   I am going to miss his ‘Garner’s Gourmet Gatherings.’” or
  • An offer to help the surviving family members: “I have some vacation time coming up at work, so let me know if I can be of any help with getting your dad’s house cleaned out; I know we’ve often kidded about what a daunting task that would be.”

About the best advice I can give is this: write from your heart. Several years back my sister-in-law started using the phrase “in was on my heart” to do such-and-such. And you know what, it never seems to fail that whatever her heart leads her to do or say pretty much came out to be the right thing. So I’ve tried to adopt that attitude as well. Just trust your heart/gut. Sure, you can search the Internet for the right phrasing, and there are plenty of sites out there to help (I’ll even do a future post with some of my favorite quotations for sympathy cards), but they don’t know the deceased like you do, or know the relationship you have with the surviving family members like you do. Use this knowledge to select the most appropriate phrases, or forge your own path and write what your heart tells you to say.



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What to Say in a Thank You Card

I am beginning to wonder if sending thank you cards is becoming a lost art. It seems these days, at least for me, when I send a gift it’s hit or miss whether or not I receive a thank you note for it. This can be particularly frustrating if the gift is sent in the mail – you are left wondering if it was ever received. Yes, I know, I can pay for tracking through the postal service, but knowing it was delivered is not quite the same thing as knowing the intended recipient got it, opened it, and had some sort of reaction to what was inside.

OK, maybe I don’t want to know if they hated it, but I would still like it to be acknowledged; for the time and effort I took to find something I thought they’d enjoy to be recognized. Is that selfish on my part? To want a simple note of appreciation? Am I being too demanding on the part of etiquette standards? I don’t think so.

So in order to help my own cause, I am offering here my guide for how to write a thank you note. It’s really simple. And I wonder if some times thank you cards don’t get written because “I just don’t know what to say”. Well, so much for that excuse! It’s easy. Pick up pen and paper and follow the rule of threes (basically things are always better in threes).

Well, OK, there are actually 6 lines to a basic thank you note, but three substantive lines. Here goes:

  1. Salutation
  2. Thank you for the [specific item]
  3. Provide one or two reasons why you specifically like the item. If you didn’t like the item, be kind, be vague, refer to the effort the giver put into choosing the item for you
  4. Add a sentence about how you will use the item / have used the item and enjoyed it. If it doesn’t seem likely that you will you may need to skip this line, or include a line about the sender’s thoughtfulness in thinking of you.
  5. Repeat your thanks.
  6. Sign your name

Oh, did I mention that thank you notes are most effective if sent in paper form?

There are some occasions I’ve sent electronic thank yous, but I’ve then followed up with paper versions. For example, when I got out of the hospital earlier this year after unexpected surgery, I sent a quick electronic thank you to a coworker who, out of the blue, had sent me flowers. She had sent me an e-mail to check in on me so I was replying and mentioned my thanks for the flowers. But her gesture was so kind (she had missed the opportunity to contribute to the office flowers and felt she needed to do something on her own) that it deserved a special written thank you as well.

My mom and I still exchange handwritten thank you cards for birthdays and Christmas gifts and even for “listening to me on the phone last night when I needed to talk”. It gets a bit ridiculous at times, since we usually see each other, particularly for Christmas and those notes sometimes end up looking like laundry lists, but still, it’s the sentiment behind them that counts.

If you’re still not sure what to say, here are some sample thank you’s following the layout given above:

To a relative:
Dear Aunt Mary, Thank you so much for the set of hand towels you sent us as a house warming gift. The colors match our new guest bathroom so perfectly, and you know how much Steven is a fan of penguins. We can’t wait until you can come visit us to give them a work out yourself. Thanks again for the best wishes on our new home. Sincerely, Jane

To a boss:
Dear Marilyn: I just want to say thank you for allowing my husband and me to use the company’s tickets to the city’s orchestra last night. Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons has always been one of my favorite pieces and I so enjoyed hearing a live performance of it. It was a wonderful evening out. Thanks again. Eleanor

To a friend:
Dear Rachel, Where do I begin to say thank you for the salon day for my birthday? As you know things have been rough for me these last few months, and a day of pampering was just what I needed. Not to mention spending the day with my best friend to gossip and vent! We have to do that again sometime SOON! Thank you thank you thank you. Kim

For the unwanted / unliked item:
Dear Emily, Thank you for the cat and dog salt and pepper shakers / figurines that arrived the other day. They were such a surprise to find in the mail. As you know I am quite an animal lover and I am always amazed at what you are always finding and sending my way. I know these will find a special place. Thanks again. Sarah

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I hope these samples and the 6 simple steps outlines above will help you out the next time you face any thank you note angst.  Remember, as with the gift itself, it’s not so much what you write, but that you do write — it’s the thought that counts.

Thank you for reading!



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What to Say in a Sympathy Card After a Pet Dies

“… what we have enjoyed, we can never lose … all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~Helen Keller

Jaworksi and Virginia around 2008

Jaworski and Virginia, ca. 2008

The last month has been a little bit rough for me because my cat Virginia has been having some health problems. She will be 18 in August, so it’s not that it’s surprising that she’s in failing health, but she’s experiencing pretty much the same symptoms (and same condition) that my other elderly cat, Jaworski, succumbed to last year. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

So I pretty much know what the eventual outcome of all this will be. The only question is when. I don’t mean to be morbid here, just realistic. I’d rather write this now, while I still have her company to enjoy – and she still is the sweetest little cat I know. OK, I must confess, when she jumps on my head at 3 a.m. and starts chewing on my hair because she wants breakfast, I do have other feelings towards her. But aside from that, I am so thankful that, when I naïvely went to a rescue group on a New Year’s Day so long ago, not really knowing what to look for in a cat, that they handed me Virginia and Jaworski and said, “here, they’re ready to be adopted.”

Virginia, June 2014

Virginia, June 2014

So what do you do when someone you know loses a pet? I know some people, particularly those who have never owned pets, may not really “get” how very important these companions can be in the lives of their pet parents. They may think or say things like, “they’re just animals, it’s not like they’re humans.” (I know, I’ve had someone say this to me.) And maybe that’s true for some owners. Maybe for them, the pet / person bond isn’t as strong as that between people. I think that may be true particularly in busy households where the pet, unfortunately, almost becomes an afterthought.

But for me, and most other pet owners I know, the connection is very strong. Call them what you will, fur babies, four-footed children, or simply faithful companions, but there is no denying that their passing always leaves a big hole in their owners’ hearts. Sending a card to let your family member or friend know you sympathize with their loss will acknowledge their grief – a grief some in our society will scoff at – and help them with the healing process.

Ah, now the tough part……what to say……. Here are some ideas:

  1. Just let them know they are in your thoughts at this time and that you understand their need to grieve: “Keeping you close to my heart at this difficult time”, “I know how much you’ll miss having [Fluffy] as part of your life”
  2. Being a pet parent is a big responsibility – and in many ways thankless. Particularly if the pet was an adopted rescue or stray, remind them what a difference they made in the life of their friend: “[Spot] couldn’t have asked for a better forever home.”
  3. If you knew the pet personally, make reference to a good memory about them: “I smile every time I think of how loudly [Patches] snored. He was such a content kitty.”
  4. If you’re totally at a loss for words, you can add a quote to the card (like the one I used at the start of this post) or a Bible passage, such as Psalms 22:24 (For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help).   And, while your pet parent friend has probably already heard it, the Rainbow Bridge poem may be appropriate to share with them as well.

If you are reading this post in anticipation of sending a sympathy card to someone who has just lost a pet, I’m hoping this paragraph is unnecessary, but I’ll add it just in case.  As for what not to say, just use some common sense.  For example, don’t suggest that getting a replacement will help them heal.  You certainly wouldn’t say that to someone who had just lost their spouse!  Besides, there is no “replacement” for a pet.  There may be other pets, but one can never take the place of another.

OK, enough on this sad subject.  I promise, next post will be cheery!


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Filed under Sympathy Cards

What to Say in a Retirement Card

My second cousin retired a few months back from a job she held for over 40 years.

Greeting Card with Enjoy Sentiment

Greeting Card with Enjoy Sentiment (all images copyright Stampin’ Up!)

By the way, and the archivist / genealogist in me finds this interesting, I checked out a site at Genealogy.com to figure out the exact nature of our relationship – second cousins –because we share the same great-grandfather. The site has a very good description of how all those confusing relationships can be figured out – daughter of my mom’s cousin – and a nifty chart to help. But I digress….

Needless to say, retirement is a BIG step in life so a celebratory card was in order. I have a stamp that I’ve found myself using a lot lately; it is just one word: enjoy (That doesn’t capture the font of the stamp – that’s something truly unique to Stampin’ Up!,the company whose products I use almost exclusively in my card creations) but it does convey the sentiment.) Here’s a picture of the stamp on another card I’ve made (in a beginner blogger error, I didn’t take a picture of my cousin’s card…)

I could have used “Congratulations” or “Celebrate” but I like “Enjoy” better. Enjoy means “to have a good time” or “to take pleasure or satisfaction in”. What more appropriate descriptions could there be for a well-deserved retirement? To me, it embodies the long term nature of a retirement, rather than marking the single day on which the retirement actually takes place.

After I made the card though, the next question was what to write on the inside of it. So I did what I do best when I have a question these days – I “Googled” it and came up with LOTS of ideas, many of which were appropriate for coworkers to use and others which were more suitable for friends and family. I had to laugh when I found two different sites, but by the same blogger, one of which advised that on a card for a coworker it was (a) appropriate (site 1) and (b) inappropriate (site 2) to express your jealousy towards the retiree no longer having to work. Guess it all depends on which site you hit first as to which advice you got!

Here are my favorites of all the sentiments I found. The first one is what I used for my card:

1. Congratulations on your retirement; the end of an era but the start of a whole new chapter.

2. Retirement is when you finally stop doing whatever the boss tells you to do and you start doing what your heart tells you to do.

3. Retire from work, but not from life.   M.K. Soni

4. Just as your work has been long and satisfying, we wish you a long and satisfying retirement.

5. We are only limited by our own thinking, even at this stage in life, you can think big

6. Opening a new chapter in life can be a huge adventure

7. Let the sand between your toes tickle your feet, you’ve earned that!

8. This next stage of your life can be filled with adventures, take the leap

9. Retiring is not just leaving your job behind, it’s embracing your future. Enjoy the best part of your life.

10. Pack your bags and set sail for the trip of a lifetime, where the alarm clock is silent, the time-clock is obsolete, and you can stay in your pajamas till noon. Enjoy!

Which is your favorite?




Filed under Genealogy, Retirement Cards