Will you be my Valentine?
While those exact words have never made my heart beat faster, the holiday itself holds a special place for me.
It all started in elementary school. Everyone brought a shoe box from home, and after the teacher cut a slot in it, we were given carte blanche. At our disposal we had scissors, markers, and construction paper; we had red, pink, and white doilies and enough Elmer's glue to coat every surface in a 2-mile radius, certainly enough to coat the inside of your hand and peel it off like a snake shedding its skin.
A couple of days after this artistic extravaganza we would all bring in Valentine cards - signed and sealed. We would march around the room and place them into their respective “mailboxes”. The anticipation and excitement of getting to take the cards out and read them one-by-one was paramount. Finding who gave the nicest cards and the fact that some people actually scotch-taped a piece of heart-shaped candy onto their card was simply the best. The teacher usually passed out a box of conversation hearts to each student and just sent the whole event into the stratosphere!
When my dad arrived home from work he would present my mom with a box of Turtles -a chocolate, caramel and pecan candy- that was her favorite. I would get a small heart-shaped box of assorted candies.
It wasn’t extravagant, but it was the only holiday that my dad took any interest in which in my mind made it special. He rarely missed a year sending me a Valentine’s card until he passed away, which happened to be February 14, 2014.
Many people grouse and complain about Valentine’s Day in much the same way Scrooge griped about Christmas. “It’s wasteful and commercialized and ridiculous. Completely made up by Hallmark and the greeting card industry.”
I suppose if someone puts pressure on you, or you put it on yourself, to perform to a certain standard (e.g. an expensive dinner out, roses, jewelry) then it is a bit over the top and stress-inducing. And to be honest, that’s not the Valentines I’m talking about. I’m thinking of the extra hug in the kitchen - maybe even BEFORE coffee?- the “I love you” that maintains eye contact instead of throwing it out in a general vicinity as you close the door headed to work.
People also feel a lot of pressure to find the perfect someone or to at least be in a relationship, but one year in college, a friend and I were both single so we decided to celebrate “Singles Valentines”. Just last week I ran across the hand drawn card I received that year. It was a pink hog standing on his hind legs with a bow and arrow. The whole thing was labeled “Cupig”! A little more fun than romantic.
How can people be against a holiday that is made for young and old alike, one that is about showing you care, sharing kindness? And don’t forget the candy! So whatever your plans or traditions are for Valentine's Day tomorrow, I wish you love and maybe even more joy that can be found in a shoe box covered with doilies.