Making Allie’s Valentines for her classmates today, February 13th, got me thinking about what a process and machine Valentine’s Day has become. These are the rules for her classroom valentines:
-Bring one valentine for every child in the classroom
-Do NOT address the valentines to specific children
-No candy, food, toys or gifts allowed
-Your child’s name must be written on each valentine
Ugh. I understand that you don’t want to leave anyone out. You don’t want favoritism. You don’t want to sugarize a classroom full of five-year olds. But still, this feels like there’s no feeling left in it. What about crushes, true sentiment, individual thoughts for individual children. What about homemade goodies or toys (We were making garlands – does this count as a toy!?)
And, it gets worse. We were stringing together 18 sets of three hand-cut hearts reading “Happy,” “Valentine’s,” “Day!” in all sorts of bright colors (forget red, white and pink – try neon green, purple, and blue!). There we were – me, tying knots to string them together; she, carefully writing her name and decorating each heart when our visiting friend says, “You know, you can go buy Tinkerbell valentines in the store for $1.99.”
Really?! Can’t this day mean something more than buying mass-produced cardboard squares at the drugstore and passing them out unlabeled and unadorned? It CAN. Allie reminded me of this fact ever so gracefully later that day. . . .
We are getting ready to head out and about and I see that my husband has a new accessory. It is a beautiful hand-sewn, button-decorated, (stunning, really) bracelet.
“Who made that?,” I ask.
“Allie” he says “She made it as a coming home present when I was gone on my trip (two weeks ago). She forgot to give it to me. I told her she could give it to me tomorrow for Valentine’s Day.”
“What did she say?,” I query.
“Allie told me ‘No daddy, not for Valentine’s, it’s for you TODAY.'”
Ah yes, today – the real thing. February 14th does not make a valentine. A true valentine has meaning. It happens any day. It is love from a daughter to a father. It is making something for someone because you mean it, because you want to, because you have made it from beginning to end with that person in mind. It is holding hands on a warm, sunny, Boulder afternoon.