No need for Hallmark
Vintage Park resident makes own greeting cards
In 95 years, Erna Holmes is pretty sure she's never had to spend any money on any sort of greeting card.
"I have never yet bought a Christmas card or a birthday card, I don't think," she said.
That's because the 95-year-old Vintage Park resident makes her own greeting cards, everything from birthday cards to sympathy cards.
"People tell me I could go down to the dollar store and get one for 50 cents," she said sorting through a pile of cards on a TV tray in her room. "But these are a lot more fun than anything you buy."
Holmes has been making her own greeting cards for more than 50 years. Though she says she doesn't remember why she started doing it, she has continued making them over the years because she finds it enjoyable.
"I have a lot of fun doing this," she said. "I love doing it because it's original."
Each one of her cards is different. Some are constructed from Kleenex boxes and calendars, others from colorful napkins or spare bits of paper. Often the fronts are decorated with pictures, while the messages inside are pieced together with letters, words and phrases from magazines and newspapers.
"I save things and eventually I can use them," she said. "And people give me stuff. They give me their Kleenex boxes. They also swamp me with their old magazines and I go through them. I don't read them, I just look for things to use."
She said she doesn't look for anything in particular when she sorts through donated items.
"I just look for cute sayings and pictures," she said. "I find sayings everywhere."
Holmes usually has about 15 to 20 completed cards on hand, in case a Vintage Park resident or friend should have a birthday.
"Do you know where I keep my cards?" she said as she slowly walked across the small room with the help of her walker. "I keep them in the refrigerator. I'm kind of limited on space here, and I don't have any food in it any way."
She pulled out a container of cards from the refrigerator, sharing a little about the pictures on the front before opening each card to show off the messages inside.
"I try to make them colorful," she said. "People wonder where I get the pictures. I find them everywhere."
She said when she starts a card, she sorts through her magazine clippings looking for what she thinks would be a good picture and message depending on the type of card she's making.
Then she starts assembling, often tearing the letters and pictures more often than cutting, and putting them in place with a little glue.
"I've used a lot of Elmer's glue doing this," she laughed.
Some of her ideas come from magazines and newspapers, and others, she said, she makes up.
"I just giggle and laugh when I make one," she said. "And sometimes I'm a little naughty, too."
When she's not watching the Jayhawks, Wildcats, Chiefs or golf, and when her bridge and Skip-Bo games are over, Holmes spends much of her time working on the cards.
"I don't know what I'd do without making those cards," she said. "If I read, I get sleepy, and the television isn't that good. I don't know what I would do here if I didn't do this."
She said she's not sure how many cards she's made since she began her hobby all those years ago, but she's sure it's been more than she can count.
"I've lived in a lot of places in Kansas, so I have a lot of friends," she said. "And I lived in Manhattan for 40 years, so I have a a lot of friends there, too. I send cards to all of them.
"People love to get these," she said. "They tell me they save them."
Sue Brown, Vintage Park director, said Holmes' cards are special, both the residents and staff look forward to them.
"They come from the heart, they truly do," Brown said.
"She puts so much into them," she said. "Everybody enjoys getting things from her."
Brown said Holmes always seems to realize what people need.
"She knows just when to make a little something," she said. "She just makes everyone feel special."
Holmes, holding up a yellow card with a picture of flowers on it, said she knows others have gotten joy from her cards, but she's benefited as well.
"This saved my life," she said. "You have a lot of time here, and I don't sit around and do nothing.
"People think it's a lot of work, but it's fun for me."