put a little love in your heart

Mired deep in the doldrums that is a Canadian February lies buried one of the weirder holidays – Valentine’s Day.

I could write essays about how strange Valentine’s Day is. About how fraught with weight and expectation it is. I could go on and on about the cards I saw at the drugstore last night; if you think your husband is “my everything, my whole life” then I humbly submit you may need some hobbies.

But I won’t! This blog is all about looking back. See how many of these memories sound like yours of Valentine’s Day gone past.

A week or so before V-Day, the class list would come home, along with a notice about the class party. We’d go to Zellers and get a box of pre-made Valentines – gendered to within an inch of their lives, I might add, some things never change – and we’d sit, carefully and painstakingly writing each classmate’s name on the “to” line. I’d always check each one off on my list because I lived in terror of missing someone and hurting their feelings, but I would choose the wording for each carefully. Boys I found repellent? “You’re a star, Valentine!” Boys I had a crush on? “You’re sweet, be mine”.

I still remember my mortification when I expressed my grade-two yearning for Ryan in the form of a Cheer Bear Valentine and he laughed at me. Ah, love’s cruel sting, etc.

The cards were always stuffed into a decorated paper bag, or envelope, or heart-shaped pouch made of red construction paper (February 13th’s art class!) Then the envelopes were immediately dumped out all over the desks, and we went through them all while munching on whatever treats moms had sent.

Somebody’s mom always sent heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink frosting. Someone else’s usually sent a cake. Children, this was in the days before organic vegetable trays with homemade hummus were de rigueur; even ranch dip and carrot sticks were rare. If you wanted the approbation of your classmates, it was refined sugar and white flour all the way.

Once we got to grade four, we were allowed to attend the Valentine’s Day sock hop at lunch hour. Yes, it was still called a sock hop even though this was the late 1980s. The first time I ever heard AC/DC in my life was at a V-Day sock hop… needless to say I was quite a bit older before I actually understood the lyrics to Pour Some Sugar On Me. I distinctly remember thinking it was meant literally.

Sugar Bomb

See, this seems fun, despite Adam Levine’s angry expression. 


Do you have a favourite Valentine’s Day memory?



6 thoughts on “put a little love in your heart

  1. I still send the cookies! Full of non-organic sugar and butter. I wish I could remember some of the Valentines I gave out – maybe I had Care Bears too – but I can’t. They definitely came from Zellers though.


  2. I sent cookies too, when my kids were in elementary school – carrots and hummus just don’t seem Valentine-y to me. I remember in grade four we made one valentine for everyone and then a big special one for our best friend but my best friend didn’t give me hers and I was really pissed off until I found out she just didn’t finish it. Now that I think about it, the whole thing was ripe for hurt feelings. Valentine’s Day is so dumb.


  3. When I was a kid they didn’t have the “must give to everyone in the class” rule. I remember being in grade 3 and there was one boy who probably had issues at home and was a little rough and no one liked him. I filled out valentines for my whole class except Jerry, because I knew that’s what everyone else was doing, but at the last minute I couldn’t go through with it and told my mom I needed her to buy another pack of valentines because I needed one more. On Valentine’s day I put one on Jerry’s desk and he said in the loudest possible voice, THANK YOU LYNN, and I thought I might die of mortification, but at the same time – I was so happy he was happy. It’s a good memory.


  4. I have no memories of Valentine’s in elementary school. I remember the candy-grams in high school. which I hated because I never got any. never was a fan of this “holiday.” I guess that’s why we do diddly-squat at home on this day. Wow, I’m just sunshine and happiness, aren’t I?


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