Friday, February 11, 2011
A Valentine for You!
I love the word valentine. Perhaps I am a hopeless romantic, but isn’t it a lovely word, valentine? I always look forward to Valentine’s Day, taking delight in all of the red that comes with the valentines. Red flowers, red hearts and red ribbons, I think we need red this time of year when it can be so dark and grey outside. Doesn’t red look beautiful against a background of white, like a cardinal on snow! I relish the lace, the chocolates and the candy hearts, with messages like, “love you”, “be mine” and “your cool,” that come falling out of the children’s cards on Valentine’s day.
One of my favorite memories of childhood is being in elementary school the week before this special day and having the teacher announce that we are going to create valentine boxes. How magical it seemed to me to take a plain shoebox, dab it with Elmer’s glue, cover it with white lace doilies and red crepe paper and turn it into a treasure trove from which to receive valentine greetings. The only sad part was the poor, shy, little girl who was afraid that she wouldn’t get any valentine cards in her box. I slipped extra’s in when I placed my valentine for her in her box and I left them unsigned. Valentine’s day would be sad indeed if you felt unloved.
I guess that is why I have heard some people say that they don’t care about Valentine’s Day when they lack having a significant other to celebrate it with. Well, there is more than one kind of valentine! I looked the word up in my Merriam -Webster online dictionary and the definition is, 1 : a sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine's Day. “2 a : a gift, greeting or greeting card sent or given on Valentine's Day; : b something (as a movie or piece of writing) expressing uncritical praise or affection : a tribute.”
Perhaps we won’t all have a sweetheart this year on February the 14th but surely we can find someone to compliment, we can express uncritical praise and affection for a few people or pay tribute to those that we love on this day. I have a very old book that my Grandmother Ruby gave to me when I was a young mother. It is titled, Primary Plans and Projects and it has ideas for teaching children through the seasons.
The pages are yellowed and tattered and the binding is falling apart but I cannot bear to part with the remains of this book. My children and I would snuggle up on the couch together and read the quant old tales and admire the Victorian drawings on rainy days. There is a short poem on the February pages that through the years has became my favorite valentine rhyme. I think we could all be like the little girl in this old time poem.
No Valentines she bought, she had no pennies,
The little maid, one February day.
But oh, she did her best, from morn till evening.
To make both young and old feel glad and caused them to forget the grey.
Her smile was bright, just like the golden sunshine,
The world seemed, of a sudden, sweet and fine;
And every one she met, oh yes, I know it,
Just felt as if he’d had a valentine.
Other people don’t like Valentine’s day because they see it as one more advertising gimmick, just the commercial world enticing people to spend money.
I have a Quaker friend, in her 70’s who proves that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give out valentines. Early in February she sits down with scissors, tape, glue, old magazines and cards, red and white paper, ribbons and lace scraps that she finds around her house and she proceeds to create her own special valentines to send out to friends and family. The cards that she comes up with are unique, some sentimental, some funny. Each one is perfectly matched to the recipient.
She has so much fun doing it and just like the little girl in the poem she spreads cheer to everyone that she gifts with one. Well, most of the time. She was showing me the ones that she has saved, from years gone by, that she has given to her husband. This special lady is what you might call a feminist. She has through her life wrote for, worked for and stood up for women’s rights. I couldn’t help but laugh when I came across a certain valentine that she had given to her mate one year. In her elegant, slanting writing, beneath the hearts, she had written, “ Having you for a man is almost as good as having no man at all.”
Despite her overall dissatisfaction with the actions of men she decided to take one on and love him. Loving or hating Valentine’s day is also a choice. I choose to look past the ways that it can be abused and to just love it. Red hearts, red flowers and rosy wishes from me to you. Happy Valentine’s Day!