Valentine’s Day marks the middle of February on the calendar. But just in case you have lost some of the hearts and flowers sentimentality of the winter holiday, TV ads, newspapers, and covers of magazines will remind you to order flowers, surprise someone with a diamond, buy chocolates, or whip up that scrumptious desert shaped like a heart.
For children, Valentine’s Day is bigger than Christmas. How do I know? Because I used to teach five-year-olds. They anticipated those tiny Valentine cards and little candies with phrases such as “Be Mine …” stenciled on top more than presents under the Christmas tree. Red hearts decorated my classroom and my young charges pasted hearts and flowers with glitter on white paper sacks to carry home their treasured Valentines.
I remember Valentine’s Day in my childhood. My classmates and I always decorated shoeboxes in colored crepe paper and cut-outs as a kind of post office box in which classmates dropped their cards through a slit in the top. My mother and I shopped for a bag of assorted, zany cards—sometimes with envelopes, sometimes not. The Valentines had different motifs—some with cartoon-like animals or characters, others with hearts, flowers, and maybe even a Cupid. But each one had a sappy sweet verse about choosing a certain person for a Valentine. Of course, the package contained that obligatory card to my teacher. (I received a lot of those during my years as a teacher.) Although I addressed a card to each one in my class, looking for messages from someone special started at a young age.
By fifth or sixth grade, the girls in my class dreamed of getting a special heart-shaped box of chocolates. We may not have voiced it, but we dreamed! Once my childhood friend, who lived only a block from my home, received a fancy red box of candy with a note that said, “From a Secret Admirer.” I knew it was from her dad; she knew it was from her dad. But that fact did not remove the envy I felt that someone would give her a box of delicious milk-chocolate candy. Of course, she pretended it was from….a secret admirer.
By high school, the little Valentines that came in an assorted package of 36 held no significance. All of the girls in my classes hoped for a bigger, special card from a particular boy. We did not all receive one, but from ninth grade on, I did—along with candy, inexpensive costume jewelry, and a special date to mark the occasion. Often, our school hosted a dance. Our church sometimes held a special banquet to mark the month dedicated to love.
At age 17, I became a wife; by age 22, the mother of three. Valentine’s Day lost some of its luster, but a girl—or a woman—never stops dreaming of the unexpected flowers, candy, lingerie—or even as I saw advertised on television—a four-foot Teddy bear. However, alongside those fantasies, my three little ones started the cycle of addressing the little cards that came in an assorted package of 36. I helped them decorate boxes to receive Valentines from friends—and sent them off to school, fancy boxes tucked under their arms. When they returned home, we sorted through the various Valentines they had received. Now that same tradition has moved to my great-grandchildren.
And how, as a senior adult, do I celebrate Valentine’s Day? Typically, dinner out and perhaps, a movie. On occasion, I’ve received a red rose, complimentary of the restaurant. Most Februarys, we are parked in the Arizona desert. But not this winter. We are enjoying February in our home. To mark the holiday, the senior men in our church are honoring the ladies with a breakfast on Valentine’s Day. They stated their plans to pamper us. Oh, what fun! My husband is one of the servers; others are the cooks. I wonder if they are addressing those quirky little Valentines that still come in an assorted package of 36!
Traveling in their motorhome several months each year, Arline and her photographer husband, Lee Smith, make their permanent home in Heber Springs, Arkansas. She currently is a presenter for Workamper Rendezvous, sponsored by Workamper News. Arline has dozens of magazine articles published, as well as five books: “Road Work: The Ultimate RVing Adventure” (now available on Kindle); “Road Work II: The RVer’s Ultimate Income Resource Guide”; “Truly Zula; When Heads & Hearts Collide”; and “The Heart of Branson”, a history of the families who started the entertainment town and those who sustain it today. Visit Arline’s personal blog at ArlineChandler.Blogspot.com