Monthly Archives: February 2013

Won’t you be my Valentine?

VAL105_vintage_cowboy_1950s_valentines_day_greeting_cardA year ago, I asked Brenda, my sister, to take a walk down memory lane on Valentine’s Day. She remembered back to the time that everyone now recalls so fondly. Those were the days, my friends that should not have ended. When kids were left to be kids.

So Brenda remembers back to Valentine’s when we walked to school together, went home for lunch and sat as a family around the supper table before going outside to play olly olly oxen free until the sun set.

“Mrs. Chisholm was prim, erect. She was strict yet kind and caring. She always asked Mom about us. (She remembered us because I was a teacher’s dream student – did what I was told – and you were… well, you know :-)).

She drove a dark green car – two tone. if I recall, with a black roof. Probably early 1950s model. Grandpa had a similar one, although it was burgundy (they called it ‘maroon’ in those days). Grandpa upgraded, she never did.

She rarely drove it, which is probably why it lasted so long. “There goes Mrs. Chisholm, probably to the grocery store.” Or church.

We’d make or buy valentines. We bought a book – sort of like a colouring book that you cut out the valentines (this was before perforation – gosh that’s a long time ago!!). At the back of the book were various envelopes that you also cut out on the red lines and then glued or taped into an envelope. And you carefully selected which card for which person. By grade 3 you were very discerning between boys and girls so if you sent one to the opposite sex, it might have been anonymous or none at all.

That was in the days when there was a chalkline down the middle of the playground, separating the boys from the girls. You weren’t allowed to play together at recess and you entered the school through different doors – Boys and Girls.”

My own first memory of Valentine’s Day was after being artificially “accelerated” – or skipping – through grade two because I was smart. Smart-ass is more accurate.  I arrived on the other side of this terrible experiment in education to find myself in a strange and dangerous place surrounded by older, bigger and meaner kids – grade three.

I gave a lot of Valentine’s cards that year but didn’t get many in return. Not getting as many Valentine’s cards as the popular kids means you’re unpopular. Simple as that. Nobody wants to be your Valentine. That hurts. Giving Valentine’s to boys in grade three also hurts, but in a different way.

And the practice continues to this day. Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW – all those letters must mean an expertise – believes we should reconsider some of our Valentine’s Day customs when it comes to our children.

We should also reconsider Valentine’s Day as adults. The Valentine’s Day exchange from years ago is now online. Same thing.

Love, love, love. We must really need love. Love songs. Love food. Gifts of love. E-cards. Very public vows of love between boyfriends and boyfriends and girlfriends and spouses, cats and dogs, and the whole world. It’s a hollow Hallmark holiday – grade school stuff. No social media post can reveal the feeling – that most fragile and inexpressible of all human emotion.

Are we that desperate for public displays of affection that we regress to the third grade?

poohbearLove is given to a beloved with reverence, quietly and romantically. Online devotions are like the icky proposals of marriage that are broadcast on Jumbotrons at sports spectacles. Hardly romantic.

Happy Valentine’s is an intimate whisper not brash narcissism.

Or I might just be bitter because I don’t have a Valentine, again. No, wait. I  do have a Valentine. I’ve had the same Valentine for my whole life. Happy Valentine’s Day, Brenda.


No laughing matter; CBC political pundit’s wardrobe malfunction

In the midst of tension  between Canada’s federal government and the resolve of #idlenomore to address and redress the treaty rights of First Nations, there is this story in the Toronto Star (01/30/13/ – Tom Flanagan wears huge bison coat on CBC: Top 10 jokes.

It’s no joke that this was reported as a joke.

Even Flanagan is joking about it. Despite striking the wrong pose – politically, socially, and culturally – Bullfax,com reports Flanagan is unfazed by the uproar his stunt caused, saying, “… it makes me an icon of Canadian history.” Hardly an icon; more narcissistic.

Some people – particularly First Nations people – might not think of Flanagan as much of an icon, either, and that this is such a laughing matter.


The coat is a troubling symbol of the Canadian governments systemic, terrible treatment of First Nations people – the near extermination of the plains bison by colonial fur traders.The government’s desolation of Indian culture; Indian life. But here’s Flanagan – conservative pundit,  author, educator and former adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper – appearing on the CBC’s political program Power and Politics – with his incredibly shrunken head poking out of the neck of his incredibly over sized buffalo coat. (Get this man a stylist.)

Flanagan yaks about the conservative slant on the day’s political cycle and he’s taken seriously in certain circles. But he doesn’t seem to be displaying any seriousness or sensitivity to #idlenomore; to what David Eaves sees as an “existential threat to what we believed Canada was.”

Flanagan is a regular pundit at a round table debate about serious political issues – in this case, trying to make clear the ominously named Clarity Act. (It legislates how the federal government would handle the question of succession by any province.) I watched the segment and was unable to pay attention to anything that he said, seriously. So distracting is the coat and  so insightful its meaning, is it any wonder that none of what he had to say about the Clarity Act was reported or remembered?

Flanagan explains that he was wearing the coat because it was cold in the CBC Calgary studios on the day he appeared for the show’s segment. As a former CBC news anchor, I sat in that same studio under similar studio lights and I can tell you that it never gets cold enough to warrant wearing a great, woolly, fur coat. If you’re cold – and even more so if you’re conservative – put on a sweater vest, for heaven’s sake, not a beast.

Could there be another reason? The American-born Flanagan, according to his Wikipedia entry,

“… has focused on challenging Native and Metis rights. In connection with his multi-year research and publications on Louis Riel, Flanagan published a reinterpretation of the North-West Rebellion, defending the federal government’s response to Métis land claims.

At least we know where he stands and what he wears. Perhaps he should interpret this:

“Fools… wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked this easily — weak people, in other words…” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix