Monday, February 8, 2010

Ghost of Valentine's Days Past

The only time I have ever really liked Valentine's Day was in grade school.
Those were the days of wrapping shoe boxes in white paper and covering them in paste and pink and red hearts.  With a slot, these were our valentine mailboxes.  I spent time at home picking out the perfect valentines for my classmates.  Back then, valentines came in a magazine-like book that we bought.  The valentines were perforated and we punched them out.  Every valentine was different, so I would spend time picking out the perfect valentine for my classmates before carefully writing their name on each one.

In those days, we'd take our valentines to school and "mail" them by distributing them in the different boxes.  Opening the mailbox, we got to see the valentines our friends picked for us.  These were messages of love and friendship.  No candy was included.  It was just the card.  And every student in class sent a valentine to every other student.  We wouldn't have dreamed of leaving someone out.  They were our classmates, our friends. (I will confess to not wanting any mushy cards from boys--ick!)

By the time my girls were in school, the valentines were sold in boxes and had about 4 or 5 different messages.  Teachers had to remind students and parents to be sure to send a valentine to every student in the class.  Candy pretty much had to be included in every card or no one would want to receive your valentine.  Looking through K's and L's stash when they got home, most cards didn't even include my daughters' names on them.  The child sending the valentine had just signed their name on the back of the card.  Envelopes were blank, too. It didn't matter who got each card.

Valentine's Day has been on a downward slide (in my mind) for years.  Visit a Middle School on the holiday and check out the office full of flowers to be delivered to 12 year olds.  Some schools finally had to forbid florists to deliver at school.  It became a delivery nightmare for secretaries and office staff, besides being a chance for showing up your classmates. 

I love the line in "Sex and the City" where Miranda asks, "Is Valentine's Day on steroids this year?"  The holiday is pushed, commercialized, and almost ruined.  Valentine's Day has little to do with friendship or love any more; it's all about show.  There is the requisite dozen roses, heart shaped box of chocolates, stuffed animal, vapid cards, and reservations at a crowded restaurant.  And that says love to millions.

Hands down best Valentine's Day in recent years?  For some reason, the Mr. and I both had the day or afternoon off.  We went to the matinee of "Chicago." It reminded him that he better toe the line ("He Had It Coming"), and reminded me that I could end up in jail if I got any crazy ideas!  After the movie, we shared a dessert at a favorite restaurant- almost empty in the mid afternoon.  A great movie and my favorite dessert: a blonde brownie under a scoop of ice cream and drizzled with some vanilla butter sauce.  That's it.  We were  back home before the hordes descended.  Oh, he may have handed me one of those conversation candy hearts that said, "Cutie Pie." 

The Mr. speaks my language.  Yep.  Best Valentine's Day ever.
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Lisa said...

You exactly captured the Valentines of my childhood. We still let the flowers etc. be delivered at the middle school. There are tables of them, mostly from parents. I usually gave my kids candy and socks at home. They are probably permanently scarred.

Gayle said...

Another thing that was really ridiculous about some of the Valentines my kids received from classmates was that the child's name was signed by the parent! The parent didn't even have their kid sign it! As with most things, in my house we are very low key for Valentine's Day. A handmade card is the best! Oh, and maybe some Lindt chocolates!

Your day with the mr. of a movie and out for dessert sounds perfect!

2Thinks said...

I remember feeling bad if I didn't get a Valentine from the cute boy who sat in front of me in second grade. In our school, you didn't always get one from every other person in your class. Cruel.

Dandy said...

As sormer restaurant employees we both appreciate every Valentines not spent providing for the masses. Let me assure you the vast majority of people dining in restaurants on Valentines are not spreading the love :)

Kitty M said...

Wow I didnt realise Valentines was celebrated at school in America. I must admit we try to avoid Valentines meals out on actual Valentines day, but I do love receiving chocs or flowers :-) x

Ragamuffin Gal said...

I love this post Mrs. E. It may be my most favorite ever!!! (and that would be saying a lot!) I remember those class valentines too! I remember picking out the "ewie" ones for the boys and whincing when a boy sent me a bigger glittery one. Yuck!! And now to get to the sweet Valentine Date ~ it brought a big joy to my heart ~ aw shucks Mrs. E.!!! Happy Valentine's week to you too! XO

Katie in MA said...

I'm a little in between you and your girls, I guess - I had a box of valentines, but we always gave one to each classmate, personalized, and never included candy. I begged my girls' teachers last year to hand out class lists, but couldn't get them to do it. It's just not the same.

puna said...

That's so cute of your hubby! Cutie pie!