That which to adults appears as nothing more than a superficial act, often holds much deeper meaning for children.
Do you remember when manufacturers of Valentines made books for children with cards to cut out and envelopes to cut and glue as well? Even in our one-horse town, my mother could always find me a Valentine Card Craft book for Valentine’s Day.
And so for a week or more before Valentine’s Day, I’d be busy as a little bee, cutting out my Valentines. Cutting out the little arrow that went through a slit in the Cupid-angel’s heart and the tiny hearts that needed to be pressed into a slit in his basket. Every Valentine absolutely unique and every Valentine a work of art. Then there were the envelopes that also needed to be cut and glued. It was such fun. It was a grand occupation.
But it was more than that. It was a reflective occupation that magnetically inscribed things into my inner being. While I crafted with scissors and glue delightful little cards, a similar crafting was taking place in my soul. Empathy, tolerance, understanding, and a new appreciation for others was being cut and pasted into my childhood convictions through the context of the paper icons that I was so patiently cutting from each page.
And Valentine’s Day. How exciting. Recognizing the wonder of giving. Thrilled by the kindness of getting. And when he, who my heart painfully longed for as a ‘boyfriend’, but yet so disappointingly never gave me notice, sent me that cut-out bouquet of roses stuck and glued so carefully in that Valentine heart with his own hand, that was as good as it gets.
Valentine’s Day was the special Day that our classmates bonded together as an affectionate group. Sure there were kids in the class that I sneered at as kids are wont to do – but they got Valentines from me and I got Valentines from them, and even that small act corrected rifts in our subconscious. The exchange of Valentines was like a peace offering between all parties, even the school bully, or the misfit. An offering with meaning that I guess I never fully realized until today even though some cards were only sent because the number of Valentines at my disposal exceeded the number of classmates I had.
But than some a--, who will never be my Valentine, started manufacturing books with die-cast pre-cut Valentines. And no envelopes. No scissors needed, just press out the valentines. This effort, without fail, ripped the best cards. And the die-cuts were so sloppy most of them were farther outside the line, than I have ever colored. And so, when pressed out, the Valentine was too much of a disgrace to even give to someone I didn’t care about. Even receiving these Valentines from others meant so little. There was no ambiance of affection in the preparation of these Valentines. Anyone who had them was too buried in the frustration of sloppy cuts and torn edges to think affectionately about anybody.
And then some other a--, who will never be my Valentine, got the crazy notion to package valentines, custom made, ready to go, most of them duplicates of another, in plastic bags. What fun is it to have no hand in the Valentine-assembling process? To have no need for scissors, glue, staples, or tape? To displace the sweet basic meaning and intent of Valentines to a mindless dispensation of a pack of shuffled cards? Even the puns and clever witticisms of the cards, juvenile as they were, had sadly weakened and waned.
So why didn’t I send you a Valentine this year? Because, my heart wasn’t in it? Someone stole my heart years ago when they made ready-made ready-to-send Valentines. At least I have my glue and staples and tape at-the-ready to try and repair some of the damage.
P.S. Amazingly the Grandchildren did get Valentine books from which to assemble Valentines. Yes, they were pre-cut as sloppily as ever. But still, the Grandchildren couldn’t have been more thrilled. Daughter told me, she was thrilled as well to find these books though the search for them was a truly difficult quest.
I WAS NOT so thrilled. Why? She didn’t buy me one!