I stood in the valentine aisle at the store searching the Husband category. I picked up one card after the other, only to put them back after reading the words. Many of the cards were addressed to “Hubby” or “Sweetheart” or—even better—“To my better half.” There were rustic cards and cartoon cards, and some with fish on the front. None of them seemed to say what I wanted to say.
Who writes these anyway?

When we first married, my husband, Randy, didn’t quite understand the importance of choosing the right card. Even though the calendar informs him weeks in advance of a birthday or anniversary or even Valentine’s Day, he still puts off buying cards and then makes a mad dash to the store at closing time, snatching the gaudiest one and calling it good to go.

Even though we are far apart

Separated by miles and miles

I hope my warm affection

Brings you many smiles.

This card has a bright white dove flying over the mountain with a red velvet heart in its beak. It was the first valentine my husband gave to his new wife, and later, Randy confided that he never read the words. He just liked the picture.

And who could forget this one?

Cousin, you are thought about

More than I can say.

Know that you are in my heart

Each and every day.

This card cost Randy a whopping five dollars and was laden with gold foil, a flashy way of showing that nothing was too good for his wife … or his cousin. This card was strategically placed in front of the cash register at the convenience store, guaranteed to catch the eye of a desperate man on a mission.

How convenient!

Then my birthday rolled around and “My Better Half” planned ahead and bought me a card on his way home from work. The envelope seal was still wet, quickly licked as he was walking in the door.

To a special friend:

May the year ahead be better

Than the one before,

Until we meet up yonder

And claim our just rewards.

Randy didn’t read the card until he was sitting in front of the house ready to sign with an ink pen he’d dug out of the glove box. Mr. Thoughtful then thoughtfully crossed out “special friend” and wrote “oops” above it. He then sheepishly explained to me that it was the only good card at the gas station.

As if I didn’t know.

It can sometimes feel like torture to buy a greeting card. So many rows, so many categories, so many pretty pictures that the words are hard to find. Silly cards that rhyme, battery ones that sing, pricey ones that don’t say anything at all. Why don’t cards ever speak the words we would say ourselves?

My dear, the road is rocky,

No one said it wouldn’t be.

But at the end of every day,

Aren’t you glad that you have me!

Randy presented this valentine with flair, bragging that this time, he’d searched the cards and picked this one in the Humor section, under Wife.

I was not amused.

Instead, I was ready.

My husband was not the only one who had searched the card store—rather the liquor store—for the perfect valentine.

Darling, when I married

The man who I selected,

I have to tell you this, my dear,

It’s not what I expected!

After he read it out loud, my stunned husband looked up at me with something that resembled fear in his eyes. I quickly made it all right by saying the card was the biggest one in the liquor store and since it was the only one they had, there wasn’t much reason to read it. Then I pointed out that the valentine was adorned with gold glitter and cost more than my lunch.

“Plus,” I said, “I really like the picture.”

After that February lesson, Randy’s cardbuying skills improved. No more “across the miles” or “dear cousin” or “special friend” valentines for me.

There is now a simple beauty to the cards he gives me. My favorite ones are blank inside, where Randy supplies the words scribbled in his own hand with space enough for him to say all I need to hear. I am worth it all.

Lorry Myers writes from her home in central Missouri. Write her at LorrysStorys@gmail.com.