Grade school was such an innocent time of life. On Valentine’s Day, we had no complications like gifts of rings or necklaces, flowery notes or flowers. Love in grade school was simply a secret you only wanted your very best friend to know. My dreams would easily be fulfilled when a boy would pass a wadded-up penciled note down the row of desks to my desk. No name, but “I LOVE YOU!” was written in big letters. How my heart would flutter when a valentine from my dream-maker would appear in my Valentine shoe box.
Who didn’t have a crush on that cute boy or girl sitting behind you in grade school? So what if he pulled your pigtails or hollered “cooties” when you scratched your head…he/she noticed you. Surely, this must be true love.
It didn’t matter if every kid in class got the same valentine. If the boy with the greased ducktail or heinie haircut actually signed his name to the valentine, I knew it must be love. Naturally, girls signed their names. We wanted love early on…
I was convinced that the punch out valentine with no name MUST have been from the one I loved. My imagination would know it was from a shy suitor: I knew he loved me. It would hurt just a bit if I’d get a gorilla or monkey valentine. I knew that must be from some squirrely boy: I’d probably stuck out my tongue at him.
At the Ben Franklin store downtown on the corner, every kid’s mom would purchase a sheet of 25 punch-out valentines. An additional, larger valentine for the teacher would be in the package of cards to be punched out along the dotted edges. Kids hoped that valentine would be rewarded with a good grade on their report card, which was scrutinized by most moms and dads. It would determine if I received my allowance that week. Otherwise, I could be given additional duties around the house. It could make a kid feel like Cinderella in their own home.
At least one or two “brown-nosers” were always smiling sweetly at the teacher and correcting other kids. Of course, that was never those mischievous Danter twins, Dean and Dale. They pulled the best tricks on every teacher they got! They would switch places in their assigned seats so the teacher wouldn’t know which twin she called on or who she was reprimanding. I bet they even put frogs in their teachers’ desks like the Little Rascals did in the comics. How I envied the antics of those boys. But on Valentine’s Day, their mom would make sure her boys came through with valentines for everybody.
I loved the homemade lacy valentines of my parent’s generation. Mom always saved the beautiful boxes of Whitman chocolates she got from dad on Valentine’s Day. The heart-shaped box was covered in pink or red satin with a big satin bow and a heart card declaring his undying devotion to her. Dad was a man of few words so mom treasured those Hallmark greetings he sent, which had words he found difficult to utter. But he always signed the card with a big signature “Hank.” She knew better than to expect him to actually say those words.
“Better let my heart be without words, than my words without heart.” John Bunyan
Today’s breed of husbands and boyfriends are expected to send either flowers, chocolates, at least a card of considerable size and loving content to their valentines. Hallmark has a monopoly on today’s Valentine gift market. They’ve issued not only cards with flowery sentiments, but also cute little pins, candy flower bouquets and T-shirts overflowing with hearts and flowers.
If a girlfriend doesn’t receive the expected gift on Valentine’s Day, that romance is doomed. What gal could put up with such neglect? That’s an error never to be repeated.
It is best to love wisely, no doubt; but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to love at all.” William Thackeray
“The only gift is a portion of thyself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Loving, sharing, dreaming…that’s Valentine’s Day for me.