After noticing her 93-year-old father take out and re-read old Christmas cards in June, Susan Wilson thought of an idea to recreate the joy that comes with receiving warm greetings.
Notes to Brighten, an Edina-based greeting card service, was the result. Wilson, with husband Tom and her twin sister, recently launched the service last month in order to provide cards to seniors with a personal touch to relieve isolation that many may feel, especially due to the pandemic.
“There’s such a kind of invisible effect that loneliness or isolation has on our seniors,” said Wilson’s twin, Nancy Wellinger. “We know that under normal times, they have a tendency to feel a little isolated. … And so you add the no visitation or limited contact aspect of the pandemic. And it’s just a recipe for making everything worse.”
Family members – or anyone – can sign someone up to begin receiving the cards. The cards, which come weekly, feature upbeat images on the front, a little story depicting positivity and a personalized sign-off by the person who ordered the cards.
Examples of images include a sunflower, drive-in movie theaters and trees in the fall. The short stories are meant to bring the receiver back to a simpler time, Wilson said.
When the cards get sent out, the person who signed up a loved one to receive the greetings also gets an email containing the card’s contents. Since every card ends with a question, this allows loved ones to spark a conversation from the card.
“It’s very well thought-out,” Wilson said. “We’ve really done a lot to study about what people – aging parents or the elderly – what subjects they like to share about.”
Wilson is no stranger to the business world. For 40 years, she’s been an entrepreneur – with some success and some failure, she said. And her husband and sister also have a background in advertising.
But for the Wilsons and Wellinger, the cards hold significance for their family, too. The twins’ father died this past summer after they started the effort, and Wellinger said the project is “really for the love of him.”
“Every time ... he read a card, it would be a reminder that that person thought about him and cared enough to send him a personal message,” she said. “Every time he touched it ... it brought that emotion back.”
A card is tangible and that’s what makes it special, Wellinger added.
“You can hold on to it, you can share it with other residents ... There’s just something lasting and thoughtful about it,” she said.
– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent