Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: Counting the cards on my shelf.

Birthday cards

As a child, the growing pile of birthday cards coming through the letterbox in the day or two before my birthday and then on the day itself, was always such a thrill. The more cards, the better the birthday – or so it felt at that time, and to some degree, I still feel like a little that today.

Unfortunately, these days the number of cards received seems to diminish each year but as this was a special year, I was happy to find that 18 cards now decorate the shelf in my living room – mostly pink and sparkly, with handwritten, meaningful words inside and one is even hand-made!

This is definitely part of British culture. We send a lot of cards. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT! I found one statistic online that suggested that people in the UK send more than 2 billion greetings cards a year covering many different occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, new home, retirement, bereavement or even happy divorce, with an estimate that the card industry is worth around £1.7 billion a year. Another source quoted a figure of 55 cards sent per person on average, which makes the UK the number one sender of cards per capita than any other nation.

Referring back once again to the High Street back “home” in Birmingham, there are at least a dozen places where I’d be able to buy cards for all sorts of reasons and there’s even a shop that sells JUST cards. I always love going into a card shop as just the most beautiful - and of course, terribly expensive - cards that often find their way into my suitcase to bring back for just the right moment. You will find cards for mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, but then also the wider relationships such as aunties, nephews, godchildren, step-families, grandparents, in-laws, husbands, fiancées or neighbours. I’m sure there’s a card for any relationship you can think of.

But coming back to MY birthday cards. The difference in card culture became very clear to me when I realised that Germans prefer to telephone you on your birthday and therefore, don’t need to send a card. My German family thought it a little strange at first when I always presented them with one but they’ve got used to now and I think that they look forward to my home-made creations – or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself! However, I receive my cards with joy and they are very important to me. I love opening them, reading them and then displaying them on the shelf to look at for the next week or two. In fact, they will only come down when the Christmas cards start arriving. I might even say that receiving a birthday card from a friend or relative is more important to me than receiving a telephone call on the day. This year, I received a few SMS and only one telephone call from the UK, but was happy to see that each of my siblings, parents, grandmother, nieces, nephew and several friends sent me cards!

I imagine that things will continue to change as more and more people connect through social media or their phone, and cards from the high street will gradually be replaced with digital messages or personalised cards which are created online and printed to order. But for now, I will continue to treasure the cards I receive and continue the tradition of sending them out to everyone on my “birthdays to remember“ list!

Do I send as many as 55 cards a year? No way! I send MANY more cards than that in 12 months – how about you?


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2

Episode 59: Summer Solstice

Episode 60: Harry Potter turns 20

Episode 61: Quick Tip of the Week - live, life, live

Episode 62: Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

Episode 63:  I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Episode 64: Stick a stamp on it!

Episode 65: Idiom of the week - Water under the bridge

Episode 66: I say QWERTY, you say QWERTZ

Episode 67: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 1)

Episode 68: Doing your homework and making mistakes! (Part 2)

Episode 69: Joking around in Scotland

Episode 70: The first day of school

Episode 71: Let's go down to the Wiesn!

Episode 72: Celebrating language

Episode 73: It's a Harry thing!

Episode 74: My favourite time of the year

Episode 75: TED-Ideas Worth Spreading

Episode 76: Grinning like a Cheshire cat

Episode 77: Enjoying the downtime

Episode 78: Talking Tenners

Episode 79: Do you need anything from the Hight Street?

Episode 80: Just another few minutes!