It was always one of my favorite activities in elementary school. Red, pink and white construction paper and paint, paper doilies, white paper bags, and tissue boxes, paste and rounded tip, little, scissors. There was also, a standard assortment of crayons, markers, colored pencils, a few staplers.
Every year was a bit different, depending on your teacher. Each hand made “mailbox” embossed with our names and various cut-outs of hearts, mostly in red, along with a red mail flag on the side. There was a slot in the top, which I decorated with pretend lace (paper doilies). After all, that was the most important part aside from my name, so I felt like it was appropriate to draw special attention to it. Poked down, into this very special mailbox were going to be some exciting bits of paper! I remember excitedly chattering, with my best girlfriends, about it all. Which Valentine packet were they choosing? What style, colors, or characters, had they decided upon? And, the most important question of all, who was getting the biggest, and most special one, in the package?
During the week before Valentine’s Day, you could feel the build up of excitement in the air! Fortunately, our teachers were well versed, in the art of channeling, this excess energy! We made Valentines for our parents and grandparents! We colored mimeographed sheets with hearts or cupids. We did word puzzles, created using words of love! (I can still smell the ink, from those pages!)
When the “Big Day” arrived and our Valentine’s Day Party started, I’m sure the noise, oblivious to us, was deafening to our teacher, as we each ran around, stuffing the tiny envelopes, into each mailbox. Once that task was complete, we were then allowed to retrieve our personal mailbox, take them back to our desks and check out the contents.
My friend and I were recently reminiscing, over coffee, about Valentine’s Day. We talked about our children, and how we were able to relive the experiences, all over again, vicariously through them. When my three daughters were growing up, I watched them choose the box of cards, that best fit their idea, of what would most impress that special someone. Once back at home however, there was the inevitable dread of having to fill them all out. For little hands, this was a monumental task, that sometimes had to be broken out over days. The teacher always sent home the correct number and a correlating list of names so no one was accidentally omitted.
My friend would have tea parties, with her little girl! Sometimes, friends would be invited, sometimes, it was just the two of them. They would dress up, and have mint ice tea, in tiny tea cups, poured from a child size porcelain teapot. The very pretty, but oh so sugary, heart shaped cakes, made by Little Debbie, were served, if Valentines Day cookies, had not been made, yet! Inevitably, the older brother, would get drug to the table, to participate. I guess it was a small price to pay, if you wanted a heart cake!
Through the years, I packed up most of their school craft projects, papers graded with A’s and 100’s, and other, at the time, special mementos. Once graduated, I gave each one in turn, this time capsule filled with memories. It was time to reminisce, and go through, all, of those important documents, of their childhood. To decide, what they wanted to keep, based on what they remembered, held dear, and were most proud of. Those tiny envelopes, starting to yellow with age, were always a source, of giggles and joy. Laughing at the different styles, from over the years, the eye rolls, caused by some of the names, along with the personal messages, written in pencil or crayon.
That time of year is, once again, quickly approaching, as indicated by the sea of red and pink everything in the front and center of every store. What style will you choose? And, most importantly, who is your intended target, of Cupid’s arrow? As pretty as some of the new designs are, how much more emotion might we stir, with something that is reminiscent of days gone by. Days when things were simpler, and love was written on the back, and carefully placed into a tiny envelope with your name on it….