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Isn't there a law against child labour?

2003-12-22 - 4:47 p.m.

My father is a penny-pinching Scot, from a long line of penny-pinching Scots, the latest generation of which, it must be admitted, is fairly well represented by me.

Im pretty good at stretching a dollar and thus it totally galls me that to buy generic, if tasteful, packs of thank-you or Christmas cards means shelling out more per card than I spent on my highly customized wedding invitations. I designed those full colour, tri-panel babies myself and allow me to say that they were pretty sharp. The layout was done so that invitations and inserts fit on a legal-sized sheet and I shopped around and found a printer willing to do a run of 100 for only sixty bucks, taxes in. Even with the fancy periwinkle envelopes made in France that I bought separately, they still cost less than a dollar per card. Now its the first year Im really sending any Christmas cards (OK, I sent seven but J sends a bunch out and it fell to me to buy them) and Im hard pressed to find anything I like at what I feel is a reasonable price. I draw the line at spending more than I did per card for my wedding invites so Ive managed to find a few that were OK for about seventy-five cents a card. Oh but I find myself picking up packs of cards with kitschy little designs, and running my hands over the gorgeous embossing on others.

What does this have to do with my father?

My father too, I imagine, was at one time appalled by the cost of cards. How else to explain his hauling sheets of bristol board home, dragging out our crayons and pencil crayons, and drafting us, his two wee daughters, into becoming a card factory? Our parents friends who received the products of our labours probably exclaimed something like, How quaint! and imagined the festive cheer around the table while we drew them. Maybe they thought wed tugged cutely on our daddys sleeve and begged to be allowed to show off our drawing talents. What alternative did he have, really, but to allow us to embark on this project? Little did they know that hed announced that this was what we were going to do and that whether you like it or not, was implied. Could they have imagined, upon pulling out our crayoned Christmas trees, that theyd been produced by unwilling slave labour? Child slave labour at that.

While we did eventually resign ourselves and get into it, I do remember seething with resentment at the outset of each annual card-production session. Not exactly happy fun vibes being poured into those cards, eh?

Of course, now Im grown up and can relate to my dads point of view. If only I had some child labour available myself, I might not be above taking advantage of it. Good bonding experience, or at least good fodder for them to write about in twenty years.

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