Be That As It May: Happy Valentine’s Day

photographyMy newspaper column for this week:

There are Valentine Scrooges and Valentine Pollyannas. Reporter, Shelley Boettcher is a Valentine Pollyanna. She says that she loves “any excuse for people to tell each other they’re great, and any excuse to eat chocolate.” And she loves “heart-shaped things.” On the other hand, comedian Jim Gaffigan is Scrooge (before his enlightenment) come to life. Simply put, he wants to “get rid of Valentine’s Day as a holiday.”

I fall right smack dab in the middle. Kind of a Scroogey Pollyanna. Or Pollyanna with a little bit of an edge. I like heart shaped things and chocolate and an excuse to tell others they are great. But I understand Gaffigan’s stance too. After all, it is a made-up holiday–made up to separate you from your money for cards and candy and flowers.

We all remember the days of our youth, when as an art project in school we covered a shoe box in paper and lace and buttons and bows (if you were a girl—cannot remember what the boys did) and put it on the corner of your desk awaiting a bounty of paper valentines on that fateful day. Those were the days! Actually after a story I heard the other day—those were not necessarily the days. A very accomplished woman I know remembers those days with little fondness. Guess there was no tradition at her public school to use art class as a time to express yourself and make a box for Valentines. She said that at her school kids just left Valentines on the desks, and it seems the one who got the most was the winner. She only got two that memorable day, and though she is long over the trauma, she still remembers.

I like the idea of the box we fashioned for our Valentines even more now. If you did not receive many cards at least you were the only one to know as they were privately ensconced in cardboard for your eyes only. I remember when my kids were little, I made sure that everyone in their class got a card (with a candy or lollipop attached) – so no one was left out. I know that some feel we should not coddle our kids and they need to learn the hard lessons early—but I am not of that school (and to this day I thank teachers who sent home a list of the names of the kids in the class—perhaps a subtle hint—but one that I appreciated).

Shelley Boettcher, lover of all things Valentine was asked to be the pro in a pro and con story for CanWest. I wonder if she lost a bet and drew the short straw for this story—but she did a fine job in making Valentine’s Day palatable. Her response to the usual protests against the holiday was “Whatever.” She likes the cards, making heart-shaped cookies, and eating heart-shaped pizza. She fervently believes that Valentine’s Day is “an opportunity to slow down our busy lives and tell our friends and family that we love them.”

She says it is the simple things the day brings that are the most precious: ‘a homemade card from your kid, a chance to sleep in (if Valentine’s Day happens to be on a Saturday, which BONUS, it is this year), heart shaped latte art, cinnamon hearts and kisses.” She believes that the only thing that can spoil the day is a “thoughtless gift” but makes it clear that chocolates and flowers are not in that category.

Jim, on the other hand, thinks that Valentine’s Day is “a litmus test on the status of my relationship”. He voiced his dislike (dare I say disdain) for the holiday on CBS Sunday Morning, and after hearing his diatribe one went away with the feeling that he is a guy who finds the whole thing distasteful. Literally. He describes the candies with the words like love and hug inscribed on them as “heart shaped chalk antacids”. He says that eating the chocolates in heart-shaped boxes is a gamble as there is no guarantee that you are not going to get “one filled with toothpaste” and the only way to eradicate the taste is to “eat nine more.” He also thinks it makes being single “brutal” as it just reminds you that you are alone; and he says it is no better for couples—to him Valentine’s Day is just “another opportunity to fail.”

I think my sister sums up the day perfectly in a comment she made on my blog last year when I wrote about Valentine’s Day. She said “I just like to be remembered, whether it be a card or chocolates or flowers or all three. It is the thought–and I mean this, just to know he (her husband Herb) cares enough to take a little time out of his day to think of me as his Valentine.”

Give me your good Valentine memories….

Published in: on February 10, 2015 at 2:14 pm  Comments (18)  
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18 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I only remember as far as childhood went and before teachers got involved, that there was too much emphasis on who got the most valentines… and that was saying who was liked the most, had more friends. I didn’t fall into that category being shy, but I got a few I guess as I never remember being totally left out. When my kids were in school I tried to ensure even if I didn’t have a list… that children who didn’t have many friends or were shy.. got a valentine. I used to ask my kids who they were. I don’t feel Valentine’s should be abolished… but I do think we need to somehow gear it to include not just ‘couples’ but to those we love and can take that day to say so.. Diane

    • I agree that narrowing it down to couples makes the holiday much more superficial

  2. I’m with you LouAnn (so what else is new?) – I’ve never really had a super romantic Valentine’s Day (at least as an adult) – but it is the appreciation that matters to me above all. Hallmark doesn’t inspire that for me – but the actions of those I love, through the regular course of life – that does it all…

    • I think you have hit the nail on the head–all we really want is a little appreciation (and maybe some chocolates!)

  3. Just finished making some heart cookies for my grand daughter…..I enjoy doing special things for her, but as far as celebrating as an adult, a little love is always appreciated.

  4. I’m like you, though maybe a bit more on the Scroogey side. I just thought all the big fuss was a waste of time and money. I do think though that people who feel sorry for themselves because they don’t have any plans are also misguided… who cares if you have no plans? Make them for yourself! Buy yourself something nice or cook a nice meal! I have better things to do than feel bad about myself.

  5. I saw that Sunday morning episode. I think I’m more of a Valentine’s day Scrooge, Lou. I just can’t buy into anymore. I think it makes single people feel bad and couples feel pressure. I like those unexpected chocolates or flowers. And every day should have some of that love stuff, you know? Kids making Valentine cards and crafts? I can get on board with that!

    • I think kids and Valentine’s Day should be the focus–I have (if truth be told)never really liked the pressure of the day

  6. I have never been into Valentine’s Day the best one for me was in 1987 when I had my daughter Natasha

  7. For some reason Ants and I have never been into Valentine’s day!

  8. I like how your sis put it too.

  9. Sorry, I fall deep within the Scrooge camp. Who needs an excuse to tell someone they’re great?

  10. Hi there LouAnn, I’ve been enjoying catching up here – reading around and enjoying myself. (How do a few weeks turn in to months – just like that!?!) And, Valentine’s Day comes and goes SO fast, I have trouble getting a hold of that, too. But – since you asked – I do have a good Valentine memory & it always makes me happy: years ago (so many . . ) I had a boy-friend who sent me unsigned Valentine cards, and one year a big red heart full of chocolates – anonymously, too. Otherwise he wasn’t very sentimental, and neither was I. But I married him. Since then we’ve shared all kinds of memories – good ones, bad ones, just-getting-through-the-day memories (and really aren’t those some of the best?). Anyway, the memory of the “secret” cards and candy is still a favorite of mine. Thank You for reminding me!! Have a wonderful day – with as many chocolates as possible.

    (And by the way, I share your fondness for art project shoebox / mail boxes for the kiddies; don’t believe in using holidays – even made-up ones – to teach the “hard” lessons.)

    • it is the getting throught the day memories that are the best–though I love a little mystery myself and those cards were probably quite a thrill at the time

      • They were ( I was easily thrilled); thanks, LouAnn.

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