TheCrockery

A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

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Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Just Because I Care. . ."

I recently took up the hobby of rubberstamping. By "took up the hobby" I mean that I bought a lot of stamping supplies, many of which I have not even tried out yet, and by "rubberstamping" I mostly mean papercrafting. There are other kinds of projects one can do using rubber stamps, but I'm not really interested in stamping on my walls, particularly given that I rent. Nor am I interested in scrapbooking, though I think a lot of scrapbooker use stamps. Rather, I got into stamping because I believed I could save money making cards, wrapping paper, gift bags, and gift labels. I still believe this to be true (if you need proof, go to Michaels and compare the cost of plain white gift bags and labels to the cost of the same items from Hallmark), but the way things look now, it might take me a few decades before the hobby actually saves money, given that I only buy a few dollars' worth of cards a year. Ah, well. At least now when people ask if I have any hobbies or do any crafts, I can claim to be a stamper. That's worth something, isn't it?

Today I actually used some of my stamps, including some larger stamps I'd not had occasion to use in my foray into bookmark-making. As I tried to figure out which platitude to use for today's stamping project, one of my new stamps struck me. It's a picture of a bouquet of flowers, interspersed with little hearts. I rather liked the picture: it was the sentiment below that troubled me. This stamp says "Just because I care. . . " and today that struck me as entirely the wrong sentiment for almost any cardmaking occasion I could think of.


Repeat it after me: "Just because I care. . . " Notice something? There's nothing about the recipient of the stamping project in that statement. There's an implied "for/about you," of course: what the statement really means is "Just because I care about you, I'm giving you this whatever." But even with that "you" in place, the statement is really about the maker of the gift and how much she cares (let's face it, this is not a craft men do, and we need not use inclusive language). Frankly, it almost sounds like the cardmaker/giftgiver is patting herself on the back for being caring enough to stamp a piece of cardstock for someone.

Well, I have a pretty high opinion of myself, but I see no reason to immortalize my pride by sending people cards explaining just how much I care. If the gift itself doesn't implicitly speak of caring, then it failed, and no platitude on the tag or the card is going to fix the problem.

Of course, one could question the very Hallmark industry of cards, gift labels, wrapping paper, etc in the same way. Why do we feel the need to send gifts (and to make them look nice)? Do we do it for the recipient, or is always in some way also for ourselves? Is there such a thing as altruism? And what if the giver is someone whose primary love language is gift-giving, but the recipient isn't a gift person at all. What does it all mean then? Doesn't real love always seek to speak the language of the beloved, not the lover?

Fortunately for you, my readers, I will not attempt to answer any of these questions. But be warned: if ever you get a card from me that says "Just because I care. . ." you'll know that something has gone horribly wrong. I suggest you check for snipers across the street.

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