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That One Valentine You Keep

Valentines Day is a lovely excuse to show the one you love that you love them. Yes, we should do this every day but sometimes you just need that extra nudge (and a date on the calendar) to get it done. While out shopping for a little something for my beloved today, I noticed the swarms of moms and kiddos canvassing the candy aisles looking for valentine cards and corresponding candy to hand out at school. I caught myself wondering how many of those kids were truly looking forward to sending that one valentine to the boy or girl who they kind of somewhat like.

Today schoolchildren are expected to provide valentines to everyone in their class. I suppose that makes sense so that no one feels left out and yet it seems to detract from the significance of that one valentine to that one person. Back when I was in school, you only gave valentines to those in your class who you chose. Which in reality meant you distributed the quantity that was in your box of purchased cards but no more. I found a fairly good representation of what my valentines looked like listed as “Vintage Valentines” online! I included the photo so you could see it in all its simple splendor.

I remember working on the cards the night before. Sometimes you’d even attach a lollipop. (The holiday wasn’t quite the candy festival it is today.) Then at school, you’d deliver your valentines at the appointed time into each student’s decorated box or envelope. At the end of the school day, you’d gather up your box and head for the bus. Later, at home, was the big unveiling where you assessed who liked you and maybe who didn’t.

When I was in 6th Grade, I received an unexpected yet welcome valentine from a boy in my class. His name was Leonard. I sort of thought he was cute but I didn’t even think he knew that I existed. That is…until I got his valentine. It had a little animal on the front, holding a heart, and it was signed “From Leonard.” Yes, by valentine, had a way with words! He could have been anonymous but he chose to sign his name that must have meant something right? Whether he put any real thought into the valentine I’ll never know. We certainly never had a conversation about it. In fact, I don’t even think we ever had a discussion at all. Nope, this was my private crush fueled by a simple valentine.

I kept that valentine for years. Why? Because if was the first valentine I receive from a boy I kind of somewhat liked. Maybe this same scenario is unfolding this Valentine’s Day at schools throughout the land. Despite the one-valentine-for-every-classmate rule, followed by a party of store-bought packaged gluten-free treats, there’s a little girl or boy who will sift through their pile of superhero valentines and find that extra special one that they will hold onto for years.

What are your grade school memories of Valentine’s Day?