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A Birthday Mystery

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My family just celebrated my mother's 89th birthday. She has four children, and by pure coincidence, three of the four, including me, chose the same birthday card to give her. I don't know how many different Mom birthday cards are out there in grocery stores, drug stores, Hallmark stores, but I think it would be safe to assume there are hundreds of thousands of different styles, sizes, messages, paper, art work, etc.

How could three of us have ended up with the identical card independently? What are the odds of even two of us choosing the same card? I found mine within two minutes of walking up to the right display case. I usually take much more time, but this card just seemed to be the right one, so I took it to the counter and paid for it.

What makes this even weirder still is my sister was going to buy my brother's birthday card for him while she was out shopping a few days ago. She picked this same card out for him at a different store, forgetting momentarily she had bought one similar when she bought her birthday card for the occasion a month or so earlier.

She did put that one down and picked a different card for him to sign and give to Mom. Turns out the card she picked up first was exactly the same card as hers, not just similar. So my mother almost got four identical birthday cards from her four children, totally random selection on everybody's part, except for my sister. She obviously liked the card enough to pick it out twice, although she only bought it once.

Somebody with huge math skillz please provide the odds against this happening!


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