Ryan Trares: Love of Valentine’s Day casts its spell

Ryan Trares

It’s got to come from the heart.

Anthony got into the Valentine’s Day spirit this year. He’s a big fan of holidays — obviously Christmas and Halloween, but also St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Fourth of July. I can relate to the instinct of finding the next big event and looking forward to it.

Ever since we got past New Year’s Day, Anthony had his eyes set on Valentine’s Day.

He’d been lying on the ground each night making red construction paper cards adorned with sparkly hearts for his grandmothers, his grandpa, and his friends.

To make our house more “festive,” he created a paper chain out of pink and red paper. It was draped across one of our decorative plants.

For weeks, he had been getting ready to exchange Valentine’s with his classmates. Anthony’s teacher sent home a note saying that their class would be distributing cards, if students want to participate.

The rules were very specific. If you took part, you had to bring a card for every student in the class. Only cards were allowed — no stickers, erasers or other trinkets. Absolutely no candy was allowed.

There would be no party, only a quick passing out of cards.

It was a departure from when I was in school. Certainly, we had the rule to bring something for everyone. Even in the late ’80s and early ’90s, our teachers didn’t want a Ralph Wiggum situation where their Valentine box remained empty because no one would “choo-choo-choose” you.

We would spend art classes leading up to Valentine’s Day covering shoe boxes with an obscene amount of glitter, paper hearts and anything else to show our romantic side. The day of, while we were passing out cards, there would be Hawaiian punch and cookies for all, as well as those pastel-colored message hearts asking that special someone to “Be Mine.”

Anthony didn’t have any of that. He picked out some cards with Grogu, the “baby Yoda” character from the Star Wars show “The Mandalorian,” and addressed each one with his classmates’ names.

He was so excited. Dumping out the brown paper bag decorated with characters from “The Mandalorian” (there was a whole theme this year), he showed us the different messages from his friends on Valentine’s Day.

But the joy was in not only receiving cards but getting to show all of his friends and classmates how much they meant to him.

Valentine’s Day is known as a couple’s holiday, a time to celebrate romantic love and attraction (whether that’s through flowers, a nice dinner, or some other show of affection.)

But it can also be a day just to appreciate the special people in your life, and show them what they mean to you.

On Valentine’s Day morning, we gave Anthony a little gift sack with some candy and a small toy. He was beaming with his new stuff, until he remembered something — he had a gift for us, too. Sprinting over to his art cubby, he pulled out a handmade card.

The red construction paper card said “Hope your Valintines Day …” on the outside, with a heart-shaped cut out. Inside, a smiling heart with pop-out arms greeted us with a hug and the message “Is the biggest one yet!”

It absolutely was.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected].