I am a sucker for Valentine’s Day. I totally understand that this is a "Hallmark holiday," probably invented to give retail a much needed post-holiday boost. My rational side gets this.
It’s the emotional side that has been brainwashed over the years.
Where did this hysteria begin? If you are a baby boomer like me, it probably can be traced back to public school. I remember selecting and purchasing a box of paper valentines to distribute.
Valentine’s Day was a party day. Each student designed a special folder to receive cards. It was a day filled with anticipation. Who would send you a valentine? Would you receive a valentine from that certain someone you’d been noticing all year long?
I am sorry to say that life was not so politically correct back then. You didn’t need to give a valentine to every student and the nicest ones were reserved for your special people. My husband remembers that Valentine’s Day at school was more a popularity contest. The boy and girl who received the most valentines became the king and queen — a great honour for the day.
Besides the boxed varieties, there were also the special, store-bought valentines. I remember receiving a money one, with ten spaces for dimes, from a boy in Grade 6. I was a cruel vixen with a keen money sense back then. I pocketed the cash, tore up the card and probably broke a young boy’s heart.
My mother, a typical ’50s housewife, also taught me that Valentine’s Day was important.
Without fail, she bought me a Valentine’s Day card and treat until I was in my 50s. She is now in a nursing home and unable to carry on her tradition and I will confess I miss that card more than I thought I ever would.
Retail has picked up the Valentine torch and runs with it. It is one of the busiest days for florists. Shelves are full of heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, pink and red stuffed animals and racy lingerie choices. I used to believe that receiving a dozen roses that day was a sure sign of lasting love. Over the years, after a few wilted bouquets and broken relationships, I realized my great folly.
My husband and I have been married for many years. He is a romantic but not a bouquet-on-Valentine’s-Day type. He more importantly shows his love every day in the little (and not so little) things he does for me. Whether it’s washing the floors, or visiting my elderly mother, all of his actions speak of love.
Perhaps Valentine’s Day simply exists to remind us to appreciate the people we love.
When you think about it, that’s a perfectly good reason for a special day.
Joanne O’Leary is a community correspondent for Riverbend.