Sunday, February 9, 2014

To Love and Valentine's Day

Isn't it a good thing that in the midst of this long cold winter, we can look forward to Valentine's Day? I must admit that at my house, we don't go overboard with this holiday. I don't put up decorations or make elaborate cakes and candies. What I do is smile a lot, and remember past Valentine's Days when I was younger.

I remember, for example, my first box of Valentine's chocolates, given to me in 10th grade by my first boyfriend. The box was yellow (my favorite color although I doubt he knew that) and satin-covered, and had a yellow plastic rose on top with a big yellow bow and a sprig of green plastic leaves. To have a whole box of chocolates to myself was unheard of--with 12 siblings everything was shared. But this box was mine and for once my parents did not demand that I share it. I kept that box for many years in my nightgown drawer, filled with letters and notes and small mementos of other special times and trinkets from other boyfriends. Where it went to I have no idea. Perhaps I left it in the trash when we moved to West Virginia, thinking I had outgrown such girlish things. Now, of course, I wish I still had it and could relive the memories it held.

Can you believe I found this box on etsy? It's for sale! I am so tempted to buy it but I will resist. Click here if you think it would be a nice addition to your Valentine's decorations.

I also remember an earlier time when I was learning to bake. My sister Judy and I made yellow cake cupcakes, and frosted them with chocolate icing, all made from scratch. On top of each cupcake we placed a conversation heart, picking them carefully to be sure they said nice things. These were for our family, I remember, and why I can recall those cupcakes today I don't know. Perhaps it was the first time we made them, or maybe because they just looked so pretty.

The school valentine exchange was always a time of stress. No one wanted to get fewer than anyone else in the class, and at the same time there were people I didn't want to give a valentine for fear they'd want to be my friend! Petty, childish, and yet so human--to want it all, but not want to give it all. My mother insisted that we give a valentine to every child in our class, so my meaner inclinations were overridden by her decree. The valentine from my current crush was scrutinized until the print was probably worn off as I'd try to find any hidden reference to how he might feel about me. Such heart flutters when the handwriting was recognized! I laugh now to think of all that excitement. It was fun, but I remember the hurt looks on some faces when their box contained only a few valentines. Kids can be mean, especially if their mothers don't teach them otherwise.

Photo from Craftjr crafts
School valentines were put into decorated shoeboxes. I wonder, do kids still do that? We usually made them at school as part of art class, cutting out red, pink and purple hearts and gluing them to a shoebox with a hole in the lid. Some luckier kids brought paper lace doilies from home but I don't remember ever having those. The doilies made the boxes much prettier, and yes, I was envious of those who had the pretty boxes. Emotions run fast and deep in children, no mistake about it, and not all of them are good feelings either.

At home we traded valentines with our brothers and sisters, usually putting them beside dinner plates at the table. Sometimes Mom had red heart lollipops for us, or little packs of redhots or conversation hearts.We always made valentines for Mom and Dad, laboring over wording and lettering. I found one I gave them in my mother's memory box after she passed away, a crooked heart with three words and my name. You can guess the words.

This week the stores are full to bursting with pink and red--flowers, balloons, cards, boxes of candy, toys, clothes, gift boxes of perfumes, and more. Desperate men will be rushing in on Friday to find something, anything to give to the one they love and hope that somehow they've hit on the right thing. The childhood stress grows up, doesn't it? My husband might remember to get a card or flowers, or he might forget what day it is and miss the holiday entirely. It's happened before. But after 28 years together, I'm pretty sure he loves me and I don't need a card or flowers to prove it.

Although chocolates might be nice...maybe I should just get him a box, and make him share!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


annie said...

great post, I had a red one like your yellow box. in grade school, we took brown paper bags, decorated with construction paper, and we were told each child was to get one from everyone else, the pretty liked ones always got more than anyone else, no matter what was said. most of the boys only signed their name. the bags were hung all along the window ledge under the huge 10 high windows, it is a pretty sight, even though it is a memory decades old now! things sentimental linger don't they in your mind?

Jenny said...

I remember a Valentine I received about 5th grade from a boy who'd moved all the way across the country but sent Valentine's to our school. He sent one to all of his old friends plus me - the only girl! I didn't even know him that well so I remember wondering why I got one when others didn't & feeling pretty special. I kept it for years as well but it, like many things got lost somewhere.

I do still have a Valentine that my great uncle sent to my mother in the 1930's when she was a little girl. I pull it out & put it on display every year & enjoy it.

Granny Sue said...

You know, annie, I remember using brown paper bags too--maybe it was earlier on in school. The shoeboxes stuck in my memory but now you've reminded me of something else. I love how one memory spurs another.

Granny Sue said...

You must have been special to him in some way, Jennie--I bet he had a secret crush on you :) Thank you for sharing your memories--such treasures buried in our pasts.

Celia said...

I have a red heart box of my mother's filled with valentines from her school mates in the 1920's. I like to get it out and think about her as a young girl.

Granny Sue said...

What a lovely memento, Celia! It must be such a pleasure to read those valentines and think of your mother. My mother saved many letters and other things, but mostly after she came to the US. I wonder if she once had old valentines from England.

storytellermary said...

What lovely memories! Your mom was a wise and kind woman . . . good lesson! I think my teachers made that rule also. Leaving people out is contrary to the loving intent of Valentine's Day (which is also Free Hugs day, at least this year).
I hope a yellow heart box, with chocolates, finds its way to you. The yellow reminds me of Elizabeth Ellis' story of helping men select roses when there were no more red -- yellow roses for a sweetie from Texas, but of course!

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