Well, it’s that time of year again, the day we’re bombarded with all those messages letting us know that if we don’t have someone buying something for us we are miserable, alone and unloved. All those TV ads for things I don’t want. Which is, of course, a good thing, because I’m not going to get any of it:
- One of those ghastly chocolate covered, preservative-sprayed fruit arrangements. Come on, if they really were edible, would they have to spell it out for us?
- An oversized teddy bear – maybe even a pink one – so that every time the object of someone’s affection moves, she has to make a decision on whether the 4 foot teddy bear stays or goes. (Of course, the answer is easy if the giftee has broken up with the gifter: out that bad boy goes!)
- Entwined hearts jewelry, because who would know better what a girl wants than Kay Jeweler’s (every kiss begins with “k”) or Zales?
- And that old standby, a dozen long stemmed American beauties. Only we know that, to meet the Valentine’s Day demand, they were probably picked months ago and are being kept alive through heroic measures that aren’t known to you, so yours will start to droop and blacken by tomorrow.
- Heart shaped box of chocolates.
Okay. I lied. I really wouldn’t mind the roses or the chocolates. But I might as well wait a day or two, until the rush has passed, and I can get roses that are fresher and a heart shaped box of chocolates on sale. Of course, you’re still paying extra for the box, and since I don’t have any nuns to donate the empty box to (see below), what am I going to do with it?
In truth, other than when I was a really small kid, I’ve never been a big Valentine’s Day fan. My late husband had the odd romantic moment, but it seldom if ever coincided with Valentine’s Day.
One year, while helping take care of a friend who was dying of AIDS, I accompanied J to a dinner that some other friends were hosting. The guys got me a very nice ceramic heart pin, which, yes, I will be wearing today.
When I was a kid, however, Valentine’s Day was fun.
My mother would get these big books of Valentine’s. You had to cut out the Valentine’s, and the envelopes, which you then needed to fold into the right shape and paste along the seams. And why use LePage’s Mucilage or Elmer’s GlueAll when you can teach the kids a lesson on paste making? So we’d glue our envelopes together with homemade flour and water paste. Talk about lumps in the gravy.
This approach was good enough for kindergarten and first grade, but after that, we prevailed on Liz to get us the boxes of “normal kid” Valentine’s, which probably came in 50 packs. (Enough to accommodate everyone in the class, as that was the rule: you brought in a valentine for everyone or no one.) They all sort of looked like this one, and they slipped into little envelope sheaths that – get this – you didn’t have to paste together with lumpy glue.
Running up to Valentine’s Day, the nuns also sold cards that they’d made in order to raise money for the missions. These were the ones you bought for your parents, and for the nun. Believe me, there was pressure to buy at least a couple from the nuns, because you had to prove that you were a good Catholic, didn’t you? For two cents, you got a construction paper heart with Happy St. Valentine’s Day written on it. For a nickel, you’d get a card with a holy picture (i.e., picture of saint) glued on. And for a dollar, you could get a valentine that some nun had crafted out of a heart-shaped candy box, which they were always scavenging around for. Needless to say, my shopping was of the two-cent plain or nickel holy card variety.
In first grade, I remember a very sweet boy, Stephen W., crying because he couldn’t afford to get his mother one of those candy-box valentine’s. Stephen was the youngest kid in the class – a late December birthday – and came from a large family. So where was he going to get a buck? Sister Marie Leo, you old meanie: why didn’t you just give him the damned valentine? It’s not as if any kid in OLA’s first grade could afford to buy it.
By fifth or sixth grade, interest in Valentine’s Day petered out, and kids started ignoring the all-in rule. Girls just gave to the other girls. Boys brought in joke valentines – Mad Magazine sorts of things – and if you were lucky you got one or two of them. I remember being thrilled when Jackie P – who was both cute and smart – gave me a joke valentine in fifth grade – all the sweeter because his sister made a follow up phone call to tell me that Jackie liked me.
Ah, that was then, and this is now. Thanks to my sister Trish and cousin Babs, I got a couple of valentines this year. Thanks, ladies!
In ending, I will leave you to a Buzzfeed link to 27 Weird & Creepy Valentine’s Day Cards. Here’s an example, but the full assortment is definitely worth a look-see. This is one of my favorites, not just because of the weird and creepy satyr-looking lamb, but for the use of the word “gambol” as a pun for “gamble.” We sure have gotten dumbed down from an era where it would be taken for granted that someone knew the word “gambol.”
Anyway, to those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, Pink Slip wishes you a happy one. Please let me know how you enjoyed that edible arrangement.