Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope everyone’s day turns out just the way you want it to.
For those of us with a sweetheart, Valentine’s Day can be a joyous occasion. But for others, it can be the loneliest day of the year. Like many, I’ve experienced it both ways, and I firmly believe that joyous is better.
But no matter what my situation, Valentine’s Day as an adult doesn’t compare to what it was like back at Carl G. Fisher Elementary School.
The buildup to the big day was nearly as much fun as the actual holiday. Our parents would take us to the store to purchase Valentine’s Day cards. Usually, these were one piece of cardboard with some artwork, such as a heart or Cupid, plus “To:” and “From:” blanks.
You filled in the “To:” line, printed your name in the “From:” blank, then folded the card in half, no envelope necessary.
One year, my cards featured a bumble bee who said “Won’t you bee my Valentine?” Let me tell you, the ladies went wild over that one.
A few days before Valentine’s Day, we sat at our desks, taking a break from reading and arithmetic to focus on a very important art project — creating our Valentine’s Day mailboxes.
Miss Pirtle gave each of us a white paper sack, about lunch bag size. We took out our crayons and begin decorating our bag/mailbox. The girls in the class put way more effort into their decorating than the boys did.
Their bags would be covered with red hearts, pink flowers and stick-figure Cupids. Blank spaces would be filled with words such as “love” and “be my valentine.” Us boys were lucky if we colored a decent looking heart with an arrow sticking out of it.
Once we finished our mailboxes, we taped one side of the bag to the front of our desks. On Valentine’s Day, we brought our cards to school. At some point during the day, Miss Pirtle announced that it was time to deliver our Valentine’s Day mail.
We all stood up and made the rounds, dropping our cards (and maybe some candy hearts) in the appropriate mailboxes. Once the cards were delivered, we returned to our desks, emptied our mailboxes and read all the cards we received.
While this was fun, the system had some flaws. First, we were required to give a Valentine’s Day card to each of our classmates, no exceptions. It just seemed terribly unfair to me that I was forced to ask Kenny, the stupid head who tripped me on the playground, to be my Valentine.
I didn’t want Kenny to be my Valentine. What I really wanted was for Kenny’s family to move to Australia.
But noooooooo, I had to give him a card and he had to give me a card, though his often read “Be my Valentine or I’ll kill you!”
The second flaw in this system was that since I was required to give a card to every kid in my class, how would the beautiful Nancy know that she was the only one who really had my heart?
One year, I snuck a real card, with a real envelope, into her mailbox, a risky move at best. Sure enough, Kenny saw me drop it in there and began chanting “Doug loves Nancy. Doug loves Nancy.” While his chant was the truth, I certainly didn’t want him broadcasting it, at least not until I knew if the feeling was mutual.
I stuck my hand in my mailbox and my fingers found a real envelope. Oh happy day! As I read the real card, signed “Love, Nancy,” I didn’t notice Kenny reading it over my shoulder. “Nancy loves Doug. Nancy loves Doug,” he chanted.
I looked up and saw Nancy smiling at me. Suddenly, I wanted Kenny to keep chanting “Doug loves Nancy. Nancy loves Doug.” I wanted my classmates to know. Heck, I wanted the whole world to know.