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Something Simple & Great This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Greeting cards. They sound simple, right? For most kids, this idea consists of a 99-cent Hallmark birthday card, an awkward school photo tucked inside their annual family Christmas letter, or maybe the obligatory thank-you note to their Great Aunt Marge for their “I'll be sure to put it to great use” ­dollar-store birthday present. For me, greeting cards mean a considerable amount more.

Since I was old enough to hold a crayon and a pair of scissors, I have crafted hundreds of specialty cards for almost everyone in my life. Whether for a birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or the deliberate-excuse-to-make-people-feel-lonely-day every February 14th, I was sure to create a masterpiece. In addition, my perfectionist qualities would ensure that my work would be incredibly articulate.

I spent hours locked in my room, scrambling through my cluttered drawers of colored pencils, markers, glue, string, and multi-colored packs of construction paper in order to find the absolute right tools to generate a card that was nothing short of perfection. The reason?

My creations put smiles on the faces of loved ones. They brightened the day for many friends and family when they were clearly able to see, for a moment, that someone cared. While my grandmother bravely fought Alzheimer's and her memory was quickly slipping away, I knew my cards brought her back to the days when she remembered my name.

When my mother was suffering through countless rounds of chemotherapy and radiation battling Stage 4 breast cancer, my little masterpieces made her lips curl into a loving smile. And when my mother passed away, my family was also the recipient of hundreds of thoughtful cards, helping me to learn first-hand the power a simple handwritten note can have.

Constructing and formulating these cards has been my niche for over a decade. Even as a teenager, it allows me to get my creative juices flowing, which can sometimes be hampered by my crazy schedule of classes and SAT preparation. I am known for and praised for this in my circle of loved ones. Once combined with other parts of my life, including being a three-sport athlete, class president, a theater lover, a member of chemistry club, and a die-hard Syracuse basketball fan, it is one of the many pieces that make up the puzzle of my life.

Now, as I look into my kitchen drawer filled with dozens of my cards from over the years, it is apparent how much I have changed. One card, a creation for my older brother's eleventh birthday, uses the mature ­elements of Crayola crayons and pink glitter, while a recent one with a striking design was placed under my ­family Christmas tree this year. It contains three-dimensional aspects including faux poinsettias, gold embellished rope, and seasonal holly. The drastic difference between the two makes me realize how much I have grown in the years separating the two creations.

I have developed in my academic prowess, traveled to many parts of the world, led my peers in the classroom and on the playing field, and lost some of the most significant people in my life. So much has changed, yet here I am, still doing something that I love for those I care about most.

Now, I'm not going to lie and say that making greeting cards has been a paramount learning experience in my life or that it has educated me about a deep psychological connection with the world. However, it has taught me not to sacrifice something I love just because I have grown older. It has ­always been an ideal example of sticking to who I am.

As I look ahead to the next four years of my life and beyond, I am incredibly eager to find something new to add to my repertoire that I am not only known for, but that I also love.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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