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Next Big Thing: Reality Cards


And now, we're going to talk about a scenario I'm sure we have all experienced.

You have a friend who's going through a rough time, and you want to offer words of comfort, but you don't know what to say. And you don't want to sound lame or gloss over the situation. Well, your friends at Hallmark may have something for you.

They have a new line called Journeys. It deals with situations like addiction or recovering from cancer and weight loss. We think that folks at Hallmark might be on to something that could be a next big thing.

So we called Linda Morris, a writer on the Journeys line, to tell us more. Linda, welcome.

Ms. LINDA MORRIS (Greeting Card Writer, Hallmark Journeys): Thank you. Hello.

MARTIN: Why did Hallmark decide to debut this new line? What were the factors that led into it?

Ms. MORRIS: What came about with this is we were hearing from our consumers that they loved the encouragement and support line that we were doing, but what they really wanted to start doing was being able to speak in the words of today, dealing with more specific situations that were occurring now.

And to that end, Cynthia Music - our editorial director on this - said, hey, let's look on this, and how can we blow this out? And we started looking at various scenarios, various situations that we find ourselves in everyday and moving with the times and taking it to the next level.

MARTIN: Who decides what kinds of issues you talk about?

Ms. MORRIS: The consumer decides what issues we talk about. We deal with general, emotional, reaching out. And so that whatever situation you find yourself dealing with, as someone buying a card for someone else, wanting to deal with it for them, you can even find cards that deal with any situation you are thinking about.

MARTIN: But it always had that. I mean, they've always had the keep your chin up cards.

Ms. MORRIS: Right.

MARTIN: These are very different like - here's one. I'm going to read one. It says, the cover is, cancer is not who you are. It's what happening to you. So we'll still call each other slop stories and advice. We'll still argue when we disagree and laugh when it's funny. And then when you open it up, it says, and when you're scared and the world feels like too much, lean on me like I'll still do with you.

Oh, this is sweet - because you are as you've always been someone who means so much to me. This is lovely. I mean, it's like a personal letter that you'd be writing to someone.

Ms. MORRIS: Well, it's ironic that you chose that, because that was a card I wrote. And it was basically taking that kind of stance, making it something that says, you know, I love you regardless of what you're going through. You are still the same person I love. So I'm still going to be there for you in same exactly that I've always been.

MARTIN: So what are some of the other circumstances that you have cards to address? Divorce?

Ms. MORRIS: We deal - we do have cards that deal with that. We do have cards that deal with depression, empty nest syndrome, or even just reaching out and saying, hey, I am thinking about you - but in a different sort of way than have been done before, because there's something that we like to call a new normal, which is everything is not copasetic all the time. And people want to acknowledge that now. May I read you something?

MARTIN: Yeah, please. I'm particularly hoping you read me one about addiction.

Ms. MORRIS: It says, watching you go through this is hard. Not trying to fix it for you - harder. Loving you and meaning it with all my heart - easy. That, to me, is one of the cards that is great for so many situations that someone may find themselves in, whether it's addiction, watching you go through this hard, or anything else.

MARTIN: I could envision a number of scenarios that that card might address, and addiction being one, abortion could be another. But you don't use those words in the card, and I wonder if that's intentional.

Ms. MORRIS: When we are going through things and we know someone's going through things, a lot of times a best thing is not to necessarily call out what it is. But you definitely want them to acknowledge that they know you're going through a tough time and that they are there for you.

MARTIN: But sometimes, you're very specific. Like, here is one. It says, it can't be easy, caring for an aging parent. That's very specific.

Ms. MORRIS: Right, because there are some people who want to speak specifically. We wanted to be able to offer a wide range, which is also why you do have some cards that will be light-hearted.

MARTIN: Are there personal experiences of your own that you are drawing upon?

Ms. MORRIS: Oh, definitely. It's like the cancer card that you chose. I was drawing on experience with my father. You know, that was the choice we made in dealing with my dad, was just treating him how he was and who he was. And I thought about that for other people. And in pretty much all the cards, you know, that we'd write, we'd a ton of research, speak to people who had been through that experience and…

MARTIN: But it begs for question of why don't you put that same amount of time into writing a personal note?

Ms. MORRIS: Some people feel like their own words don't say it as well. There's an eloquence that you want to convey. There's a poetry to it.

MARTIN: I feel sorry for you. You know why? Because if I were in your family, you better write me a note, because I know you're…

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: …because I know you're a writer. And I feel like, uh, Linda, excuse me. I know you did not just go down to the company store and get me that card.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Linda Morris is a writer on Hallmark Cards' new Journeys line. She joined us from KCUR studios in Kansas City, Missouri. You can find out more about Hallmark's reality cards at our Web site, npr.org/tellmemore.

Linda, thanks so much for joining us.

Ms. MORRIS: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: Here's a fun fact. Americans buy about 7 million greeting cards each year, and according to the Greeting Card Association, that means we buy twice as many cards as bars of soap.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: At TELL ME MORE, we want you to be part of the conversation, which is why we invite you to join us on The Money Train. That's our summer series on how to get and keep your finances on track with our money coach, Alvin Hall. We are looking for three listeners who are tackling the challenge of starting a small business, becoming first-time homeowners or climbing out of debt.

Listeners like Kelly, who wrote to us yesterday: I make relatively decent money for someone who nets a few monthly expenditures and no children, but I'm always broke. It's like the second the money hits my bank account, it's gone a day or so later. So I would love is for someone to help shed some light on how are the productive member of society who has savings and isn't always begging to borrow money.

Alvin will help listeners like Kelly and you to get your finances on track.

TELL ME MORE and our listening audience will keep tabs on your progress. Do you have an interesting story to tell? We're looking for details. For more information and to tell your story, please call us on our comment line at 202-842-3522. Again, the number is 202-842-3522. And, of course, you can visit our blog at npr.org/tellmemore. Hurry.

That's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.