Hallmark. Carlton. Day Spring. And countless more greeting card companies make millions of dollars by playing on the emotions and sentimentality of people around the world. There is a greeting card for nearly every major life event imaginable. Weddings. Births. Deaths. Divorce. Baptism. Confirmation. And on and on and on.
For many they walk into the aisle, look for the appropriate header, turn the cards over to find the cheapest one and take it to the check out. Then there are people like me, the ones that personally agonize over the choices. Does this one express the recipient’s personality? Does it express my feelings?
My mom and dad have always been greeting card givers to the family and close friends. I, to some degree, have carried on their tradition. I stand in those aisles looking carefully over all the possible choices, prudently considering how each makes me feel. Do I want to make them laugh? Send a mild but humorous jab at their age? (DAD!) Do I want to send the words of my heart, as only a daughter can?
To preface just a bit, though I rejoice in the relationship I now have with my parents, I come from a family that was not emotionally very open. It was how my parents were raised and how I was raised. I never saw any fault in it, though wished to have a more open relationship as I grew up. Our emotions were never the topic of conversation and that was just how it was for us.
The last few years have seen an obvious change in the greeting cards my family picks out for each other. Even before I officially changed my name and gender, I started sending my parents cards from their daughter in hopes of helping them with the transition. This was something I had longed to do for many years. Always looking at the ‘from daughter’ section first before reluctantly moving on. After I had told them I was transitioning, that first time I stood there in the greeting card aisle of my local wally world, I must have taken a half hour to choose the perfect card that expressed every sentiment I was feeling as their new daughter.
The pride, the joy and the sheer freedom in that choice of a simple piece of paper to express what I had long to say for years was more than I apparently could handle. I teared up right there. The emotions that I had long suppressed came trickling out. Not ‘til I put the card in the mailbox did I allow the emotions to run free. I regretted wearing make-up that day.
But as all of that seemed to be a fantastic part of my journey, it was only half of this story. There was just as much hurt on my part in the early days as there was joy. I now understand much better of what emotions my parents were dealing with at the time, but when I received those cards in the mail around Christmas and my birthday (only 2 days apart) and I saw Mark on the envelope, I was crushed. When the card arrived in June for Father’s day, I will admit now I could not bring myself to open it. At that point, I was still their son.
July 12th, 2010 was the day it all changed. Though I had to wait for several months, when Christmas came around again, the envelope read Meggan. I broke down weeping, no balling is more accurate. To see my parents recognize me in that way was something I had longed for my entire life. The tears continued to flood my eyes as I opened it and saw DAUGHTER in bold script letters across the top of the card. The rest of the card could have been in Sand script and Hieroglyphics for all I cared. To see my parents call me their daughter in this way was more than my emotionally and hormonally charged body could handle. I wept for what seemed to be forever.
Every child, no matter what the age, hungers for his or her parent’s approval. As I had long feared how my parents would react to the news their son needed to be their daughter, I am now continually learning just how deep a parent’s love can really go.
Every greeting card, every letter, every package sent from Omaha now holds much more meaning. They are truly a treasure to me greater than gold.