“Will you be my Valentine?” is a popular question that is posed to those we love on this particular day. While many people think that the Hallmark card company had a hand in creating Valentine’s Day, it has actually been in existence for centuries in many forms and legends. Perhaps check out this link to read more about it: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day In the 21st century, Valentine’s Day continues to be observed on February 14 as a day to express one’s love and affection towards another. Hearts, flowers, chocolates, candles, dinner dates, cards with touching sentiments, or quiet evenings at home all flow through my store of memories.
My Grandparents, Horace and Geneva, were married on Valentine’s Day in 1918. They married at the home of my Grandmother’s parents, which was customary at the time. I often thought Valentine’s Day would be a special day to be married. As part of our first Valentine’s Day together in 1974, Steve and I dressed up, joining another couple to go to the Joffrey Ballet which had a performance at Iowa State University. Steve and I met only three months prior at a dorm party and the chemistry between us became more evident on that special evening as we went out to dinner and watched a beautiful ballet.
On our first Valentine’s Day as newlyweds in 1977, I recall how Steve walked past countless storefronts through downtown Des Moines until he found Fannie May Chocolates. He carefully selected a red cardboard heart-shaped box filled with melt-in-your-mouth chocolates, each candy identified on the inside of the lid. On the top of the box was a small black stuffed-animal Scottish terrier. As I had grown up with a brood of Scotties as part of my mother’s kennel business, Steve sensed this was just the box for me.
A particular Valentine’s dinner will always be a treasured memory for Steve and me. We arranged for a babysitter to watch our six-month old son while we went out to dinner at Red Lobster. Unfortunately, Red Lobster did not take reservations, so we soon discovered after our arrival that we would have an hour’s wait on this very popular evening. Fretting about the time we gave our sitter for returning home, we discussed whether or not to stay. Within ear shot was a couple, probably the age of our parents at the time. They approached us and asked, “Would you like to join us at our table? We’re next on the list. In fact, we insist.” Amazed, Steve and I accepted their offer. It turned out to be one of our more memorable Valentine’s dinners as we became acquainted with this kind couple. When the check came, Steve reached for his billfold, but the gentleman put his hand out and said, “Please. We would be honored to have you as our guests tonight. Our children live out-of-state. It has been such a pleasure to have you join us tonight.” We didn’t exchange addresses or phone numbers, so we never saw them again. But, we will never forget their graciousness that evening.
One Valentine’s morning as a child, I awoke to a surprise at my bedroom door. Mom had knitted royal blue slippers with pom-pom tassels, leaving them at the bedroom doorway and placing a couple of chocolates in each slipper. The night before we siblings sat circled around the kitchen table carefully writing the name of each classmate on a Valentine and signing our names. I reserved the most sentimental card in the packet for the cutest boy in class, hoping that it would affirm to him how special I thought he was. I imagine, though, that I wasn’t alone with my heart-throb crush, since many of the girls in my class had similar affections for him. And, always, there was the “teacher” card, although a couple of my teachers really didn’t match the verse on the card, posing a dilemma on which card to give!
When our son and daughter were in grade school, it was fun to watch them make their Valentine mailboxes out of shoeboxes that were reserved in the garage attic for the occasion. They eagerly set to work using the tools of the trade before them: colorful construction paper, Elmer’s glue, Reynolds aluminum foil, heart-shaped stickers, and a rainbow assortment of markers. Most importantly was creating the mail slot on the lid for their classmates to easily slip their cards into the box. It was always fun to have them sit with me at the end of the school day and go through their Valentine’s cards from their classmates and have them tell me about their Valentine’s parties at school.
As a preschool teacher in recent years, it was fun to relive some of my memories and those of my children while my little 3- and 4-year old charges carefully crafted their boxes or heart-shaped pouches with handles. Pink cupcakes or heart-shaped cookies were coveted treats for the classes, thanks to generous parents who loved to bake. I hope the children have memories of their first Valentine celebrations in a classroom setting.
Valentine’s Day brings many stories to mind for us. May we stop to consider that it would really be lovely to focus on loving one another every day of the year, not just on February 14. What memories of Valentine’s Day do you have? Feel free to share your story in the comment section or contact me directly through the “Contact Diane” tab on the website.