Wednesday, January 04, 2006


CARDJUMPING: The frantic act of adding your signature to someone else’s greeting card at the last minute because you forgot to buy a card or gift of your own.

One who cardjumps is called a cardjumper.

Think of all those parties you went to but forgot to get a card or didn’t think to bring a gift. So your eyes dart about the room looking for someone who hasn’t sealed their envelope yet so you can quietly ask to jump on their card. It happens all the time. I’ll realize on the way to a social engagement that I forgot to send a card to someone and ask my sister if she wouldn’t mind signing my name to her card. Or someone will catch me on the way into a party and ask if I brought anything, then politely suggest they give me some cash to add their name to the gift because they forgot to get one.

Cardjumping is embarrassing, but it spares you the shame and humiliation of failing to formally acknowledge a baby shower, housewarming, holiday, birthday, wedding, or graduation.

Cardjumping can be blatant, like when someone asks you a week in advance if they can hop on your card – when there clearly remains plenty of time for them to get their own card. Sometimes you’ll try to get out of it by lying, “Oh, I would be happy to – but I haven’t picked up a card yet either.” An experienced cardjumper will not be discouraged, responding, “That’s okay…just remember to add my name to it when you do. Thanks!”

Cardjumping can be desperate, like when you’ve got to steam open an envelope in the bathroom just so you can tack on a Hancock.

Cardjumping requests by immediate family members must be honored – that is a rule.

Cardjumping should not be abused. If you become a chronic cardjumper, people will learn to avoid you prior to social gatherings. Few people mind sharing signature space with a friend or family member every once in a while, but nobody likes a perpetually thoughtless freeloader. Unless, of course, he happens to be your son and lives in your basement. People don’t get any more lovable than that.

Over the holidays I had the opportunity to catch some prime cardjumping in action. On our way to a 50th anniversary party, Geri deftly jockeyed for a spot on a card, calling everyone she could think of at the last minute as we drove to the country club. Two of her sisters had already sealed their envelopes, but a third had not – disaster was averted! Or, at the very least, an impromtu Walgreens run.

One rule of cardjumping etiquette is that you should always ask the cardgiver first. Signing, sealing, and sending in secret is frowned upon. Nobody likes a conniving cardjumper presuming it’s okay to share in the glory of your thoughtfulness.

Personally, I’m done with cards. I prefer hand-scribbled notes that “tell it like it is.” Why waste all that time in the card aisle at the supermarket fishing for the perfect poem when you can write whatever the hell you want on a piece of paper?

“For my dearest George,

I think you can be sweet sometimes. You forget things a lot and don’t always have the most thoughtful things to say, but you make sure the mortgage is always paid on time and walk the dog when it rains. So Happy Valentine’s Day.

Yours truly, Jane

P.S. The garbage stinks…you may want to think about taking it out one of these days”

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