Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentine's Day: Memories Of Love
Valentine's Day is a Hit-Or-Miss Holiday with Rick and me. Sometimes he brings home a bouquet of carnations for me; sometimes I make him a heart-shaped meatloaf. More often than not, we end up saying at some point, "Oh yeah. Happy Valentine's Day!" Usually this realization occurs when we get the mail and there is a card from St. Patsy, Obsessive Greeting Card Sender (And Underliner).

My mother loves to not only shop for greeting cards, which can, according to my brother, take her hours, but she also loves to underline key words in their sentiments. All of her kids and grandkids now hold One-Upsmanship Sessions in which they compare not only the number of words underlined, but the amount of times the words are underlined. Reading her cards aloud with the underlining is hilarious:

Wishing YOU, DEAR daughter, the BEST Valentine's Day EVER
because YOU are LOVED.
and ALWAYS!!!! (Adding extra exclamation points is new.)

But I digress.

Valentine's Day. Rick and I aren't exactly dismissive of it; we just don't Do It. We have our anniversary, and that's our Personal Valentine's Day. We figure February 14th can be everyone else's Day For Celebrating Their Love.

When I was little, Valentine's Day was a much bigger deal and a lot more fun. We bought the whole-class box of valentines, there was a class party with treats, and my mother made sure I had red bows in my braids. I would sit at the kitchen table the night before and put way more thought into who got which Valentine than I did into my Social Studies chapter questions. Especially the boys' valentines.

At school I was always astonished at the valentines I received that had a lollipop skewering through them. Although I had never truly wanted for anything as a child, I knew those had been expensive and were not something I could even have asked to hand out. Sometimes, I didn't even eat the lollipop. I saved it and saved it, only to throw it out later after it got broken or forgotten. How silly.

My parents both were enthusiastic celebraters of Valentine's Day when we were children. The very first flowers and heart-shaped box of candy that I ever got for the holiday were from my father. He always made sure that Patti, Susan, and I got a Valentine present. My mother, I'm sure, was in charge of Bobby's, but Dad's fingerprints were all over ours.

One of my father's great joys was to get in the car and simply go. My mother hated it because often, she would send him on an errand for an item she needed for her dinner preparation. Hours later, Dad was nowhere to be found, and in the age before cell phones, he was unreachable. Half an hour before dinner, he'd pull up in the driveway, placid and triumphant, and Mom would be harried and beyond irritated. "Honey! Where have you been? I'm waiting on those potatoes!" she'd say, exasperatedly.

My father would ease out of the car, look surprised and a little sheepish. "Oh! Doll, I forgot all about those potatoes. Let's just have rice. But take a look at the chair I got in the scratch and dent at Penney's. Only a hundred dollars. And I hit it really, really good at the driving range, too. Really loosened up my back."

In his travels my father would frequent small, family-owned florists and garden centers and find little vases or containers in sets of three. Each one would be a little different, either in colour, shape, or something. He'd then have the florist put a flower in each one, add a ribbon, and bring them home. We girls would come in from school on Valentine's Day and find them with our card and sometimes, our candy. If Dad had been downtown, we'd get a little tiny heart box of French chocolates from Faroh's, and we knew that meant he had a secret stash of the same someplace. Oh, those French chocolates from Faroh's. Divine and beautiful.

Mom and Dad exchanged cards, but that was it. The kids were the ones who got actual Valentine's Day presents, now that I take the time to think of it. Again, I am astonished at how oblivious I was growing up. Everyone in my family said I constantly had my nose in a book. It's clear that they were not exaggerating.

I still have one of those little vases that my father gave to me as a Valentine. About four inches tall, it is the only one to have survived not only several moves, but also the capriciousness of my feelings. Safely tucked away in a cupboard, it has weathered fits of temperament, organization, streamlining, and independence. Like Valentine's Day, some things are just for Love.


  1. What a sweetheart your dad was, and how thoughtful of both of your parents to lavish all the Valentine’s attention on their children. My parents did not really celebrate Valentine’s as a couple, either (likely to save money), but my mom made sure we had our cards to hand out at school and our little boxes of “Valentine hearts.” I loved those little candy hearts even though they didn’t taste much better than chalk--- they were as much a part of Valentine’s Day as jelly beans in our Easter Basket or candy corn at Halloween. Maybe it was the novelty of the little messages on them. As I am wont to do, I just looked that up on Google and found an interesting article about the origin of “conversation hearts.”

    I mentioned in a previous post about the Valentine’s Day carnation sale when I was in high school. It was a good way to raise money for Prom, I suppose, but caused a lot of embarrassment and hurt feelings for those who only got one or two (or none, or a black carnation!). So... not a fond memory there.

    Mr. O. and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. The price of roses goes sky high, and I am not a carnation fan (beyond the reasons previously stated). Seems like a lot of fuss, as well, to try to get a dinner reservation on that night, and I am not one to wait in line to eat anywhere. Ever. Mr. O. often forgets my birthday, so you can imagine that I care a fig if I get a Valentine’s present, lol. What he does do is bring me spontaneous little presents out of the blue. For me, that is much more romantic.

    Completely off topic, but I have discovered how to get my little preview for editing before publishing:

    1.) Log on to my Google account (since that's the profile I use for blog comments here.)
    2.) Go to your blog and select Google as my profile.
    3.) Paste my comment in (I compose in Word just in case.)
    4.) Click Preview. This opens up a preview box where I can edit.
    5.) Make any necessary changes or additions.
    6.) Click publish.
    Similar to how it was before, just that I now have to log on to my Google account if I want to preview. If I just paste in the text and click "Preview" without doing that, the text disappears. Good to have worked out the system. :-)

    1. Ortizzle--Oh, yes. My father could be a sweetheart. He could also be a terrible pain in the ass.

      I still love those little conversation hearts; I always was a huge fan of Necco wafers, and I coveted the chocolate and purple ones the most. Once this weather eases up a bit, I will make my trek to Walgreen's or CVS and buy a bag of each of the large and small hearts to put out for Rick and me in the living room. Probably will get Rick his red gumdrop hearts, too.

      Aaah, the carnation memory. As I mentioned also, I have a Carnation Sale memory, too, but it is muddy and faulty, and I don't wish to mix it up unnecessarily. It is not unpleasant, but it was definitely awkward.

      Roses here are unusually reasonable for Valentine's Day. Many places have them cash and carry at 20-25 dollars a dozen. I am not fond of roses. They are not hardy, and they are, to me, cliche. Give me the spicy-scented, hardy, ostentatiously chipper carnations every single time. Failing those, plain old baby's breath alone look Victorian and lovely.

      I like the odd, out-of-nowhere presents much better as well. Even if it is simply all of the foldy chips from the bag, a handy gadget he got that makes my life easier, or when he says, "Thank you" after every meal I make. Valentine's Day feels bossy to me, like we are being ordered to be romantic. You know how I feel about being bossed.

      Thank you for providing a tip for other Google Users wishing to comment. I think Google/Blogger is Going Through Some Things at present. Feedburner, the service I use for my email subscribers, also went down today and shows me with zero subscribers. It did not send my email posts out at first. I have no idea what's going on, but if I have to move this whole shebang to WordPress, I might have a Breakdown.

      Save yourself the headache. Don't preview. We'll overlook any typos and Lapses Of Lingy. Your brilliance has already been proven.

  2. I hate Google. Ate my comment twice. Trying a third time. May eat the Valentine Chocolate if this doesn't work.

    1. Mary--Oh, goodness. Are you using the iPad again? You know it causes you nothing but heartache when you use it to comment. (Go ahead and take all the jellies and coconuts. I hate those.)

  3. Sweet memories. I remember turning a shoebox into a Valentine's Day mailbox and receiving Valentines at school, but without any candy attached. I remember my mother making cupcakes with pink icing for us at home, but that's about it. I don't think that my parents celebrated Valentine's Day, but maybe they did and I had my nose in a book, like you!

    1. Ally Bean--I used shoeboxes, Kleenex boxes, and we also used to make a paper plate thingy too. Elementary teachers were such crafty ladies. By the time I had my first male teacher, I was a fifth-grader, and I'm pretty sure we didn't make anything for our valentines. Ditto for my male sixth grade teacher.

      (You know, Sweet Memories would have been a great title for this post. I was feeling decidedly tired, headachy, and frazzled by the presence of interior painters, so I punted and took the easy way out. Ah, well. Titles have never been my forte.)

  4. I know we did the class valentines when I was in elementary school, but I don't really remember much about the process. Yes, I spent some time trying to sort who would get what, but in the end I got VERY bored with the process & just took them in the order they came out of the box. Ha! I don't remember any carnations in school - and it's a good thing because I probably wouldn't have gotten one!

    My parents gave each other Valentine cards - & my mom always made sure we had candy (I get my Enormous Sweet Tooth from her). I usually give Mike a card & he sometimes gives me tulips (it's "our" flower), but this year I got a Shaun the Sheep ecard & I forgot to get him anything at all. Oops! But it's just mid-day, so who knows what might yet happen :)

    1. Bug--I'm terribly sorry. I know I replied to this comment, honestly! I don't know what happened.

      I hope your Valentine's Day turned out to be something lovely. I never did get to the store to get the little conversation hearts, after all, so I hope you got our share!

    2. I thought you had replied too, so no worries! I DID have a lovely lazy day. There was definitely chocolate involved :)

  5. That vase and the memories of how your dad made you all feel so special on Valentine's Day are all so lovely, Nance. The vase reminds me a little of a flowered McCoy cookie jar I had, one which we received as a wedding gift (now long gone as it was totally impractical and not nearly as lovely as your vase). Valentine's Day has always been another opportunity for us to show love to family and friends. We did that for years by having our Valentine's Day parties. I like the idea of using it to show love to all sweethearts, not necessarily romantic ones. I still hand out and mail out a few Valentines. They are usually a surprise for folks and truly appreciated.


    1. Shirley--I love the idea of a cooky jar, and I do have one down at the lake, but it's terribly impractical. It doesn't keep cookies fresh at all, does it? Ours is used as a crock to hold long-handled cooking spoons, spatulas, tongs, etc.

      I'm not a card person, as you know, but I know I still like getting them, especially as a surprise. One year, I did get each and every one of my students at the high school a little kid valentine. They were all quite charmed by it. Go figure.


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