Last week, I was talking to my friend, V100 radio personality Ric Cochran, about Valentine's Day.
"I got my favorite valentine a couple years ago," said Ric. His wife, Jeanne K (also on the air at V100), had decorated a shoebox with foil and construction-paper hearts. "She had my name written on it, and had cut a rectangular hole in the top and put my valentine inside. She made it look just like the boxes we'd talked about having when we were in grade school."
It was the one of those gift ideas I wish I'd come up with myself, since my husband is one who'd have been touched by that, too.
I remember what a big deal those valentine boxes were, how we'd cover them with lace and paper doilies held on by way too much glue, carefully writing our names on the top, dotting our i's with little hearts (and believing we were the first to think of doing such a thing).
I remember spending ages selecting which valentine would go to each of my classmates, fearful of how a simple "Be Mine" might be misinterpreted by the wrong person. And then, after school on the day we passed out our cards, I'd carefully sift through the valentines I'd received, trying to determine if that certain someone had sent me a message with the card he'd chosen for me.
At my daughter's previous grade school, they decorated bags instead of boxes. The bags didn't seem to hold the same magic. At least, not for her. But selecting who would get which valentine was still a big deal. She'd separate her cards into piles and agonize over her list, being careful to save the best cards for her closest friends.
But unlike me, she didn't pore over the cards she received looking for hidden meanings, although she did check the handwriting to find the ones where the parents obviously wrote in the names.
They don't exchange valentines at her new school, although they do have a party. It's sad to think of the children missing out on the fun of decorating shoeboxes (or bags), but I expect there was a legitimate reason for ending the practice. I can see too many possibilities for heartbreak.
I'm not a big fan of consumerist holidays, don't like that people are pressured into expressing their feelings with store-bought tokens and sentiments. To me, a handpicked bouquet of wildflowers feels so much better than one that's store-bought. But since a bouquet of icicles isn't quite as romantic (not to mention how hard they are to arrange in a vase), calling a florist makes sense.
Not everyone appreciates homemade gifts, but it seems that having someone put thought and time and effort into making a gift would be far more romantic than one of the heart-shaped holiday standards.
Karin Fuller can be reached via e-mail at karinful...@cnpapers.com. Her columns can be found online on her blog at thegazz.com.