At my advanced age, perhaps I should have been grateful that someone found me attractive enough to merit sending a Valentine’s Day greeting. But couple of years ago my dearly beloved made a big mistake in what he chose to send me to mark the occasion. I may be old-fashioned, but am I the only person who finds animated e-cards intensely unromantic and annoying?

An irritating e-card

Checking my email on my phone, I groaned when I saw the offending item. After sitting through a full 60 seconds of cartoon chocolate cake-making, accompanied by irritating music, I got to the personal message, which was probably full of lovely sentiments. The only trouble was, that even wearing glasses, I couldn’t read the tiny type. Most of my smart phone screen was instead taken up with the final frame of the charmless animation showing the finished chocolate cake. Yes, I know I’m a chocoholic, but why would that mean that I want to see cartoons about items with chocolate in them? I don’t see my carnivorous steak-loving friends salivating over animations of grilled meat, despite the fact that they eat pounds of the stuff. It’s not as if I like watching cartoons on television. In fact, I’m not particularly keen on TV.

Confessions of a grump

I realized that the e-card had brought me up close and personal to the impatient, grumpy-old-bat aspects of my character. I had separated from an unfaithful husband (from whom I’m now divorced), and had written a satirical self-help book drawing on my experience, Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not. You might think my ex cheated because his wife was such a grouch. However, despite my curmudgeonly tendencies, I had moved on from the break-up to have a long-distance relationship with a wonderful man from London. A real candlelit-dinner, hearts-and-flowers, dyed-in-the-wool, old-fashioned, British-gentleman romantic. The previous year he had sent me a very sweet card by snail mail that had warmed the cockles of my heart. “Bee mine,” it proclaimed, with two bees buzzing about on the cover. This was ironic, since Valentine’s Day is derived from St. Valentine, commemorated on February 14, who was the patron saint of beekeepers as well being associated with love, happy marriage and engaged couples. I kept my boyfriend’s bee card with me on my travels. This year was the first time we would be together on Valentine’s Day. I had promised to provide the chocolate, sharing the spoils of a recent visit to mainland Europe, home of the best confectionery in the world. I had also scoured card shops in London searching for the perfect card to present to him. So I was disappointed that he had chosen such an ugly modern method of expressing his affections, rather than just handing me a card that was actually made of well, card, with genuine handwriting inside it. The poor chap had spent quite some time choosing what he believed to be the most suitable animation for the Valentine e-Card, and bought a subscription from the e-card company to be able to send me more of the dreadful things whenever there would be any further occasions to celebrate. Cow that I am, I couldn’t keep quiet about the fact that I hated e-cards and insisted he go out to buy me a real one.

Treating my boyfriend like St. Valentine

More irony—by biting my boyfriend’s head off with my complaining, at least metaphorically speaking, I was treating him like St. Valentine, who was martyred by being beheaded. You might wonder why the two of us are still together, two years later, at least at the time of writing this. It might well have something to do with what we did together after he came back from the card shop with a classic Valentine’s Day card. For Valentine’s Day 2020, I hope that tradition of real cards and cuddles will continue.


  • CJ Grace

    Ex-BBC journalist | infidelity author | cancer warrior | snarky Brit in USA | voice-over artist at

    CJ Grace was a BBC staff journalist in Britain and then worked for China Radio International in Beijing. The author of "Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Not," she is currently completing "Hotel Chemo: My Wild Ride through Breast Cancer and Infidelity." When CJ discovered her husband’s infidelity and then got breast cancer - for the second time - she refused to be a victim and kept her wicked sense of humor. After receiving a copy of "Adulterer’s Wife," Arianna Huffington invited CJ to write for HuffPost. CJ has an infidelity advice column on her website. Her mantra: The best revenge is to get past the need for it. Visit to find out more. Showcasing her BBC-trained British accent, CJ also has a voiceover business,