Hello Valen - time!
Just for old - time's sake, my sisters and I still like to wish each other a "Happy Valentime's Day" -- or better yet, "Happy Balentime's Day!" Well, it's a hard word when you're in kindergarten.
I was thrilled when this big book of punch - out Valentines was re-issued a few years ago. The cards, trimmed in red felt, are very similar to those we made for our grade - school Valentine boxes in the early 1960s, though not exactly the same. Contrary to all the commercial hoopla about love and romance, I have to say that for me Valentine's Day has always been more of an arts and crafts holiday, starting way back with those Valentine boxes. Even in high school and college, it was not so much about who had a sweetheart as it was about baking heart - shaped cookies and designing novelty cut & paste originals.
A few years ago, an old friend and I were reminiscing about the Valentines of yesteryear. She wrote, "I loved making the Valentine box when I was a kid, but I was embarrassed by the Valentines my mother bought, which I now realize were quite beautiful. But when you don't fit in, the most important thing is not being different. My mother bought these big over - sized books from which you punched out the cards (they were beautiful with lots of glitter); you also had to cut out the envelopes and glue them together. I was embarrassed by the homemade feel of them. All the other kids brought the Valentines du jour. I remember in first grade choosing, for the boy I liked best, a huge glittery heart with a girl on the front and the boy dressed as a doctor listening to her heart go pitter - patter for him."
Upon reading those words, my own heart went pitter - patter, for I immediately recognized that description as the very Valentine book from my own elementary school days. How well I remember the glitter and the cut - out envelopes, even the doctor card! Another favorite pictured a girl on a big swing -- I think it must have been the biggest Valentine in the glitter book! What I wouldn't give to see those cards today! How I wish I had saved an entire book so that I could see all the pages intact again before we punched out the cards and glued the envelopes together.
Yes, it's true that even in those years a lot of kids were already bringing in pre-cut Valentines with a Jetsons or Flintstones theme, but those never really touched my heart. It was the same when my own children were growing up, with a lot of their classmates exchanging whatever store - bought Valentines were current -- Harry Potter or Shrek. Not Ben and Sam, however! Poor kids! They had been blessed with a glitter and paste mother, who was forever urging them to design their own with all kinds of stamps and stickers from the Pearl Arts and Crafts Store on South Street!
I loved the answer that Brooke Shields gave (in a February 2009 magazine -- I think it was Self or maybe Real Simple) when asked, "How will you celebrate Valentine's Day?"
Make our own cards for Dad
and just make that the celebration."
I couldn't agree more -- spreading out all the supplies and so forth is the real celebration! I don't put all the Valentines together in preparation for some bigger event -- that is the event! Playing with the paper hearts and stickers is my way of celebrating. Brooke is lucky she has some daughters to join in. And I'm lucky to have my cats Pine and Beaumont (both girls!) who like to help by chewing on cellophane, stealing ribbons, trying to guide my hand as I write, and taking a nice long nap atop a stack of doilies! Hey, why not?!
For a few fleeting years, Ben and Sam were game, but gradually -- just like Little Jackie Paper -- they ceased to fully appreciate the innocent pleasure of the school Valentine exchange. I knew they just weren't that into it the year that Ben informed me that the 6th graders were "so not doing Valentines anymore!" On the one hand, "Bah, humbug!" But on the other hand, we always knew it, didn't we:
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.
Before that fateful turning point, my friend and neighbor, Cate [scroll down or click to "Trimming & Untrimming"] used to come over with all of her ink pads, rubber stamps, gold metallic pens and special ribbons to help the boys with their creations. Those were great Valentine's Days -- and great Valentines! Yes, I still have those little cards. In fact, that too is a part of my solitary celebration -- sorting through all the old favorites that I have saved, and admiring them once again.
Here are a couple of favorites:
Across the gateway of my heart I wrote "No thoroughfare."
But Love came laughing by, and cried,
"I enter everywhere."
~ Herbert Shipman ~
"It is overdoing the thing to die of love."
~ French Proverb ~