The Thing about Hallmark

Why is every­body so down on Hallmark? Aren’t we inar­tic­u­late enough with­out deny­ing us the chance to have some­one help us to speak? Haven’t we all had that moment when we don’t have any words of our own. When the words have been blast­ed right out of us? When all we are left with is a heav­ing heav­i­ness in our guts? No more than an emp­ty space — black, boil­ing in on itself — that can­not sig­ni­fy some accept­able mean­ing?  When there is an absolute require­ment — the need to speak, but no words.

That time when all you have to say is: This thing that has hap­pened — it has torn a hole in my heart and tak­en the words right out of me. I want to show you the blood rush­ing out to pool at my feet. To speak in the red sticky cop­pery taste of sor­row, to give you the torn out piece of my heart and say “eat this — it is my heart’s ache for you.” But no one wants to see the gun-shot hole in your chest. You can­not point to a pool of blood and say “this is for you.” But, you can always send a Hallmark with its care­ful­ly deco­rous words that say “I have a hole in my heart for you.” with­out mak­ing an unseem­ly dis­play of arte­r­i­al blood.

The thing about Hallmark is that the reply, the acknowl­edg­ment of the oth­er’s sym­pa­thy, of the wound that they have tak­en in response to your own heart-ache, can be as care­ful­ly rit­u­al­ized as the expres­sion. With Hallmark you do not have to say “I see the hole in your heart but I can not answer it — the hole in my heart is too big and bleed­ing to quick­ly and it threat­ens to over­come me. And I can­not be held account­able for your sym­pa­thy.” You can sim­ply let Hallmark say “Thank you for think­ing of me.”

Hallmark. Because some­times the best you can do is to let some­one else help you say “I have some feel­ings about this. I thought you should know.”