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Family & Friends Experiment #4: Send Birthday Cards, Not Texts

Between “The Power of Love Notes” and my admiration of Happiness Guru Kelli Davis’s project, Happster Mail… I think I’ve made it clear I’m a sucker for old-school communication. I’m a romantic, so sue me! (Oh yeah, and I’m bringing back “So sue me.”)

Today’s experiment was invented at the crossroads of two major events in my life: my wedding & the passing of my great grandfather, BTO. Do allow me to explain…

Somewhere in the midst of my Pinterest-wedding-planning-blackhole, I discovered the brilliant idea to replace a standard “guest book” with a personalized calendar. Each guest signed their name on their birthday, so at the end, I had a calendar full of my loved ones’ birthdates! Brilliant. Right?

Admittedly, when we got home from our honeymoon, I hung it up and aside from giving my friends and family a birthday phone call, didn’t do much with it. UNTIL, my great grandfather passed away.

This legendary man, aptly nicknamed BTO (Big Time Operator), was an anomaly in his non-digital age. He kept record of EVERYTHING. He was a father to 7 children, who yielded 21 grandkids, who gave him 35 great grandkids (including me), and finally 16 great great grandkids. And that’s not even the impressive part. He managed to hand-write cards to each of us on our birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, I’m pretty sure one year I even got a card on Groundhogs Day.

The man, the myth, the legend card writer on his 100th birthday party with a gallon of tequila in a rifle bottle.

In each card, was a crisp dollar bill, for big birthdays, a fiver. My cousins and I would joke,

“If I had a dollar bill for every time BTO sent me a card… oh wait..”

When he passed away we were all grief stricken. I felt suffocated by the idea that his traditions would die with him. We all had our favorite memories with him, some of hunting, some of strawberry picking, but mine was DEFINITELY the letter writing. He also did this weird thing. He would include 3-5 printed pictures he had recently snapped of friends on his disposable camera. Half the time I had no idea who was even in the photo! But one thing was clear, he cared about me and he cared about them. He was so DAMN proud of his family and friends and wanted everyone to know how much he loved them, even if all he had to gift was one dollar and a few polaroids.

This year, I started this experiment and would be moved BEYOND THE STARS, if you would help me carry on the tradition of love and giving, in honor of my BTO.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Get a calendar and fill it in with the birth dates of your friends and family.

  2. Send a CARD or LETTER (NOT a text or fb post) wishing your loved ones a happy birthday/happy holiday!

  3. Include a single dollar bill and write “BTO” on it.

May you and your loved ones get as much joy and happiness from this small gesture as I did from my sweet and thoughtful BTO.

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