Dear Martha:

Can you believe it?  I finally made it to Page 4.   I know, I know.  It did seem to take a long time to get here, but consider … I needed to wait for Spring to finally peek out here in the hinterlands, and then I had to find and organize all my Martha magazines, and then I needed to get some cute baskets, and labels….

You get the drift.

Well, here I am at page 4.   Now, let’s see … I can’t plant my early seeds yet (I’m going to be on vacation next week)…but as soon as I get back…and get seeds…and get soil…and some place to plant them..and get my plant lights set up….

So, how about the marbled eggs.  I think I’ll do that just before Easter (please remind me)

I guess that leaves your calendar…

Good News.  This is something I’m pretty good at (and have, perhaps, complicated out of all reason).

Here’s the back story.

When I was caring for my Mom and Dad, I helped Mom out with her cards.   We have a large family, and she and Dad had a lot of friends, so each month there was a long list of people we had to buy cards for.   Spending five or six hours in the card store was our normal monthly routine.  It was actually quite fun (I’m smiling as I remember these trips).  The lady at the Hallmark store would get a chair with wheels for Dad, and he would scoot himself all over the store (he could walk with a cane, but I think he liked scaring us when he would sneak around the corners in his chair).

Mom had written the names of each birthday or anniversary card recipient on a post-it note (one each) and when she would find the card she liked she would put the appropriate post-it note on the front of the card  (she read each and every card until she found the one with sentiments that reflected her feelings about that person – that explains the 5 – 6 hours).  When we got home, we knew which card went to which person.  Brilliant!!!

Well, I had my own list and thought Mom had a great idea.  So (because it’s me) I systemized the whole process.


First I capture everyone’s birthday/anniversary on a calendar that I keep updated in Excel.

I capture the actual birth date so that I can calculate the year we are celebrating (very important for those “special” years, like 16 (sweet), 21 (emboldened), 30 (what happened to my youth?), 40 (oh, here it is), 50 (not so bad, 60 (new adventure), 70 (maybe I’ll relax a bit), 80 (I think I like being a matriarch), 90 (I can get away with saying almost anything [wink]) and 100+ (each year is a gift).

This automatically updates a spreadsheet that compiles all of the important dates into a 3 month calendar.

For those data wonks out there (Oh, I know you are there), this sheet automatically updates from a concantenated cell)

Then, I print out a sheet with all the dates on post-it note paper.

At this point, I simply cut slips of paper with the names and dates on them.  This is a perfect thing to do while vegging out in front of the TV (be sure it’s something that doesn’t need a lot of attention, or you may cut Uncle Radford’s name out of the slip of paper)  and put the names on the combined list…

Special events go on the back.

I keep this list with me in my wallet and pick up cards when I am traveling.  I generally follow up with a marathon Hallmark  trip (I keep looking for Dad coming around the corner  [smile] ).  And yes, I really do read each card to find “just the right one”.  When I find the right card, I simply put the post it label on the card front.

When I get home, I have a stack of cards, but I know who they go to.  

Now, if I could only remember to actually get them in the mail.

Category: Cast of Characters, Create, Don't Judge Me..., Me!, Organizing, Smile, Things I love
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(2) Comments and (2) Replies

  1. Scott Clausen | September 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply

    Fantastic! Very important date to add to ur system: October 8, 1968 😉

    Hope all is well!

    • jill | September 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply

      Is that your birthday? I am the 7th!!! You are officially on the official calendar…

  2. Annette | October 27, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    Not sure how my grandma organized hers (she had 8 children, their spouses, 27 grands and countless siblings, nieces, nephews–you get the picture) and she sent cards to everyone! Hers were also picked personally and just perfect. One thing I do know is that she’d sit and address them all and jot the date to mail just under where the stamp goes, so she’d know when to post it.

    Maybe that’ll help you?

    Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories of my Oma!

    • jill | October 27, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Reply

      I know, it seems as though that generation was just great about communication. I love the idea of the date under the stamp, that way no one knows you “bought ahead”. Thanks.

      So glad that brought back fond memories. I suspect they would be very happy that we appreciated all of their effort!!

      My big issue, now, is actually getting them IN the mail. Seems like that would be the simplest…

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