That’s Why There are Hallmark Stores

As my daughters and I were wandering through the paper and scrapbook aisle at Michaels craft store yesterday, one thought kept running through my mind: who has time to use all this stuff?

All the women I know who have a family and a job (that’s most all women these days) barely have time for even the basics of running a household. For instance, it’s obvious from the amount of prepared meals available in grocery stores that no one has time to cook anymore. And if they’re like me, they wish that they could take it a step further and break their families entirely of that annoying habit of wanting to be fed regularly.

And household chores? If in the hour and a half that I’ve allotted to cleaning, I consider the job done if I’ve vacuumed up the tumbleweeds of dog hair and hosed down the bathrooms with Tilex. I’m not going for a “clean” house, just one that is cleaner than it was before I started.

So that brings me back to the aisle at Michael’s and the enormous selection of little paper cutouts, stencils, glitter, paper punches, ribbon, and on and on for making hand-made cards or embellishing scrapbook pages. Women don’t have time to prepare meals and maintain a house, yet somehow they’re going to find the time to sprinkle glitter on cards?

I’m sure it would take me at least half a day just to decide on the paper before I could make even a simple gift tag. And assuming I made it through that decision in 2007, I still would have to choose from five different color schemes (Metallic, Silver, Spring time, Childhood or Polo, whatever that means) for the tiny 3/16″ eyelets so I could attach the tag with a color coordinated ribbon.

If I had all the time in the world and this sort of craft appealed to me, I can understand making an investment in time and money to decorate pages of a photo album. It can be passed onto future generations who might appreciate the effort, and the embellishment details might even add insight to the pictures. “Oh, isn’t that cute, Grandma put happy face stickers next to the photos of Mom moving out of the house.”

But devoting hours of time to making something as disposable as a greeting card? No one has that kind of free time and particularly not for something that probably will end up in the recycling bin within a few days. The closest thing in my life that I can relate it to is when I spend a couple of hours making a special dessert. Like a hand-made card, my éclairs are appreciated for a few minutes, but then they’re gone”¦and I probably won’t have time to make them again for another four years.

It’s interesting to me that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. is expecting a lot of women to spend a lot of time”¦and money”¦cutting and gluing cards and scrapbook pages. She has just launched a paper crafts line at Michaels, and according to the Wall Street Journal, she expects to generate $100 million of annual sales within three years.

I’m sure Martha Stewart has some smart people working for her, but unless they can figure out a way for moms to check their email, drink their lattes, and glue little flowers onto colored paper ““ all while driving the kids to soccer, I just don’t see that $100 million happening.

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