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.


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