Monday, January 30, 2012

Who’s ready for some football? We are, we are!

The other day I accidentally turned my bathroom radio to a sports channel. It’s an old radio, with one of those big round knobs you actually turn to find a station. It has a burn hole in it where I planted an incense cone years back. And the antenna’s broken, so landing on a station I’m actually looking for really is a delicate process. Sometimes I just find a place without static and stay for a while.

Which explains how I came to find out (this morning) about the big “Super Bowl” this weekend, though I'm honestly not sure who's actually playing.  As you might have guessed, I’m not much of a football fan.  When somebody asks if I’m gonna watch “The Big Game,” I usually don’t even know what sport we’re talking about.

My ignorance of sports is second only to my incompetence with technology. And without cable TV, my ineptitude in each area is pretty cinched up.

A chick poses with puzzling Y chromosome.
That’s okay. I’m secure in this. Plus, according to Ben, my football-loving boss, I’m predisposed to not like sports. He attributes it all to the Y-chromosome, or lack thereof. He suggested I imagine the ‘Y’ chromosome as a giant goalpost. Dudes have it; chicks don’t. For girls, we just have a big ‘X’ guarding the place where the love of sports would've gone. Sorry, guys, that spot is reserved for crying over hurtful things you might say to us when we’re hormonal. That, and cheerleading.

I saw a great article online today, attacking a newly formed theory that we girls might wanna “chick up” your annual guy fest, an occasion mysteriously revered by manly dudes across America. To that, we cry foul. Hey, guys, we know better than to mess with your Super Bowl man-party throw-down, just like you know not to buy us gym memberships for our anniversary. (You do know that, right?)

Among the ridiculous Super Bowl party ideas the theorists gave us: football charades, fashioning AstroTurf drink coasters, and watching the big game from a treadmill. A treadmill? I’m sorry, but other than the obvious athletic connection, I can’t see how anybody can reconcile cheap beer, crappy couch-potato snacks and actual exercise at a Super Bowl party. Even I’m not that dum. (Sigh, yes, I did mean to misspell it.)

However, we at CrinkledNose.com can help you score some extra party points without fumbling with the crazy party games. We now offer magnetic, personalized Super Bowl party invitations. You can personalize your cards with all your party details – time, date, address, and which team you’re rooting for. Add the magnet backing, and send your cards out in plenty of time, and you’ll earn yourself a first-down in party planning. When your guests post their snazzy, magnetic party invitation on their fridge, they’ll have all the details of your big Super Bowl party throwdown in the pocket long before the pre-game beer kicks in. Touchdown, CrinkledNose.com!

Now, whether your team wins or loses, that’s worth a rowdy cheer and a chest bump.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Considering our losses, counting our blessings after this week's devastating tornadoes

I awoke Monday morning, the first time, about 4. My neighbor across the street called to check on us after the nastiness was over. The funnel cloud that ripped through our corner of the state had passed, along with two of its evil friends.

They didn't hit our neighbor's house, or ours. We didn't have any damage at all actually, save the absence of power for a few hours.

Others were not so fortunate. Right up the road, our head production designer saw half of his neighborhood destroyed. Six hundred children lost their school. Two lost their lives.

Weather reports say tornadoes typically start the second week of January. So in that sense we in Alabama were right on schedule.

What we can't predict with any certainty, however, is the random, merciless path a tornado will take. A house untouched stands beside a house demolished. But injured or whole, none of us remains untouched after a narrow escape from a twister's grip. There's no way a tornado can pass so closely by without reminding us with alarming clarity how vaporous this life really is.

When I think about the raving disaster just a few miles away, I think of the amazing grace that keeps us here, and the hope we find in rebuilding. Clearing the rubble, housing our friends or sending donations, we're helping our neighbors. The terror that rages by night is ultimately vanquished by the brightness of another day's glory. And the triumph of enduring conquers yesterday's defeats.

Today at CrinkledNose our network is still down, and production is limping along, but we're eminently thankful to be here making special occasion photo cards for another day. Being here is glorious, and life alone is worth celebrating. Holidays, weddings, graduations – those days are the gravy.

We at CrinkledNose.com wish many more of these special days for us all.

Monday, January 16, 2012

MLK Day: Sharing the cost of living
King's dream

Today we honor the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., minister, social activist, civil rights revolutionary, martyr and champion of equal rights. My son is out of school for the day; my garbage pick-up is postponed; banks and libraries are closed, all in tribute to one man.

King is one of only three men honored by holiday on the American calendar, and his day is certainly the newest. Established in 1983 by President Reagan to honor King’s birthday, MLK Day eventually became two holidays, when President Clinton enacted the King Holiday and Service Act of 1994. With that gesture King’s day became much more than a simple birthday tribute – it became a day of individual activism, a day to roll up our shirtsleeves and volunteer, to do something to help our brothers, sisters and the community we share.

On this day, and every day, we must do the work we’re called to do. King knew the night was coming; the time to work has always been ‘now.’ He exhorted us, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Now almost 44 years after his death, Martin Luther King Jr. has been gone from us longer than he was here. In 39 years he did more than lead a movement, he churned momentum for a cause that would gain as much or more ground after he was gone. Today we probably relate more directly to the changes he set in motion than any other American revolutionary. He walked among us.

It’s 2012, and night is still coming. There’s still much work to be done. We may not be judged with the harsh prejudice of an earlier, hostile Birmingham, cut into cruel castes by the origins of our ancestors or the color of our skin, but do we really want to be judged by the content of our character? What have we set our hand to recently, to make our world a better place?

King reminded our nation that freedom isn’t free. When I consider the inestimable impact of his leadership of the civil rights campaign, I feel small. I haven’t done much. But if I’ve learned one thing from King, I can’t judge myself by comparing myself to another. I remind myself I can’t fill another man’s shoes – I can only do what I am called to do. With my thinking straight, I get happy. I’m thankful to be here, helping in small ways, celebrating life’s great things. Making holiday photo cards might not mean much on a broad scale – there’s nothing I’m reminding a nation of – but I’m helping individual people celebrate their great moments, and commemorate the special days of their lives, whether it’s a wedding, birthday party, or announcing the birth of their newborn baby.

Truly, the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King remain as vital today as the day he stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, sharing his dream of a nation where sons of slaves and slave owners sit down at the table of brotherhood. Most of the time we don’t realize his contributions are undergirding our everyday experiences, inspiring the relationships we freely choose to make. But just think about the things we don’t think about every day – the issues that no longer exist for our generation. The dream King told us was deeply rooted in the American Dream, has come a long way towards true.

King stirred the proverbial melting pot that is America. He’s gone, but his legacy continues to charge our social atmosphere for equality, and our community for active service toward our fellow man. We've got to get out there and do to honor the man who gave his life for what he believed we could achieve.

“Everybody can be great. . . because anybody can serve. . . You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hand-crafted letters, cards make lasting, loving keepsakes

Christmas is packed up and put away once again. As much as I love the holiday, it’s a relief to have all those boxes tucked high in the attic for another year. This Christmas I was particularly festive. I baked gingerbread men, wrapped scores of gifts, hosted my entire family, and as I do every year, sent out heaps of holiday cards.

Sending Christmas cards is probably the one element of adulthood I really latched onto right out of the gate. For years I’ve been building and updating my holiday card list, eager to share greetings and well wishes with those who mean a lot to me.

This year I received a very special greeting of my own. It arrived in my mailbox well after the packages had been opened, the tree taken down, the tissue and wrappings swept away.

Yet of all the holiday greetings I received, this one was the best. It was a letter – a two-page, handwritten reply to the photo Christmas card my son and I sent out this year. It didn’t come from a relative or an old college roommate – it came from the 81-year-old father of my very first boyfriend.

The last time I saw the retired Lt. Colonel and his lovely wife was about half my life ago, but for all these years I’ve been sending them cards. I have many happy, teenage memories of being at their house, sitting around their living room with the family, watching movies on the VCR, eating an incalculable number of home-cooked meals. It was there I learned that real people could make mashed potatoes that didn’t come out of a box.

Ah, but what we did get out of a box in those days, were letters. Lots of letters. We got all our mail through the post office back then, in real envelopes with actual postage stamps. Growing up, I remember the joy of going to the mailbox to find a letter waiting for me. When I pulled this letter of out my mailbox two weeks ago, it grieved me that I couldn’t remember the last time I'd gotten a letter in the mail.

A rare keepsake, this hand-written greeting, and I'll keep it always.

I'm realizing that, though I write for a living, like most of the modern world, I don’t write often enough. Postcards, emails and texts don’t count. Somehow we just don’t find the time to write like we should. CrinkledNose makes our lives easier this way; at a time of year when time is particularly short, we can send out magnetic holiday photo cards to let our special people know we’re thinking of them; how many kids and pets we now have; and how much we’ve aged since they last saw us.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, then CrinkledNose is filling some of those big gaps our lack of hand-penned greetings has created. Every unique CrinkledNose order reminds us that, like good mashed potatoes, good holiday cards don’t come out of a box – until they are pulled from your loved one’s mailbox, sharing the special holiday greetings they were meant to deliver. And when the message you send is truly treasurable, whether it's a hand-written note, child's drawing or family photo card, it becomes a lasting, loving keepsake your recipients will be honored to receive.

As a writer, I aspire to write more often in 2012, to pen letters worth keeping. I’ll send out even more holiday cards. Those of you who know and love me, hold me to it. . . and watch your mailboxes. :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hailing another great Year of our Lord,
Roman style

As the year has turned, I marvel how quickly January has rolled around once again.  Looking at the phenomenon that is the New Year, I’ve learned some interesting things about our calendar’s early days.

The month of January was named after Janus, the Roman god of new beginnings, fitting for the year’s debut.  In ancient times, Roman coins showed Janus with two heads, one looking forward and one looking backward.  True to this history, New Year’s remains a time to look ahead to the unknown and to look back at the last year.

I’m so blessed to look back on the past year or so and know that the real God has guided us through the financial and economic turmoil.  At the same time, I’m excited to look ahead to what God is going to do.  We are much more than our jobs and checking accounts, though we’re thankful to have them both.

Here at CrinkledNose.com, we look forward to the holidays, weddings, graduations, new babies, birthday parties, and all the other special events we’ll welcome in 2012.  This year we’ll unveil our new user interface, which will give you, our customers, terrific new options for selecting and previewing your cards before you order.  “Easy” is about to get even easier!

We also look forward to potential new relationships with other hospitals like Children’s of AlabamaOur campaign this year raised more than $6,000 for Children’s, and these funds will go directly to support their mission of helping kids get better.

As 2012 unfolds, we are grateful for the opportunities our New Year will bring, and anticipate without worry the challenges that always lie ahead.  To quote Matthew’s Gospel, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself.” 

In January we’ll see the past, present and future, all rolled up in one calendar month.  And speaking of calendars, we’ve got those too.  As quickly as the past year has passed by, we’ve made some great new designs to help you welcome the New Year and its coming months with special photos of your family, pets and favorite vacations with our magnetic, personalized photo calendars.

What the pagans run after, we thank God for providing, our confidence resting in the surety of His profound love.  The Romans gave us their monthly measure, but we have a stronger hold on our time here and the confidence we have for the future.

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” – Psalm 20:7

We’re excited about all we’ll have to celebrate this year.  We don’t actually have any pagan holiday cards here at CrinkledNose, but we have recently introduced New Year's cards.  We appreciate the Roman Empire for giving us January, and the names of our other wonderful months.  We’re also grateful for central heating, our legal system and the three-course meal, and we’ll enjoy their benefits throughout 2012.

Happy New Year, Everyone!!!  :)

~ By Ben Fineburg, CrinkledNose.com Creative Director