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.
Do you have a favourite Valentine’s Day memory?