“Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!”

The rain fell all day yesterday and last night. It stopped for a bit but only to gather a little more energy because it then began to pour again, to pound the roof, around midnight. After that came the highlight of the storm, the thunder and lightning. I was reading in bed when the whole room was lit by a flash of light then another flash then another. The thunder was a rumble at first which got louder and louder until it became a crash. I stopped reading to listen. Gracie slept right through it. It seemed to thunder for a long time then the rumbling began to fade until it disappeared. The rain fell more quietly having expended all its energy for that one giant blast.

Today was the big day, Valentine’s Day. I’d sit at the kitchen table the night before and in my best handwriting fill in my name on the back and the names of my classmates on the fronts of the envelopes. My mother always bought the valentines with a picture on the front, usually with a corny saying, and a place on the back for my name. Kathleen usually ended up slanted as it’s a long name. I also had to add an R. so everyone would know it wasn’t Kathleen D. or Kathleen L. Those precious valentines were carefully carried to school as were the cookies my mother had made for the party. The week before, during art, we had transformed shoe boxes into valentine boxes.

We had to do regular school work most of the day. It killed us. Our minds were on those envelopes sitting in boxes under our desks. I wondered who would give me valentines and feared not getting one from my secret crush of the week. In those days we didn’t give one to everybody in the class. I think it was more a matter of expense than thoughtlessness. Finally, after eons had passed, the nun would tell us to put our books away. She’d start to clear off her desk to make room for the party food. We’d pull our decorated boxes off the floor onto our desks and sit impatiently waiting for the festivities to start. The nun directed us row by row to walk around and hand out our valentines. We’d sit as classmates walked by and dropped envelopes or didn’t. We never opened them until all of us had taken our turns. It was then the party began. We’d get cookies and candy then sit at our desks and talk and open the valentines. We’d giggle at the ones from boys being young enough still to giggle without being silly. The party lasted until the final school bell when we’d reluctantly clean up and get ready to leave. The valentines went in our boxes and we carried those treasures home as it they were the crown jewels.

I’d sit at the kitchen table and look at those valentines then I’d keep them safe in the box for a long time so I could look again and again.

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12 Comments on ““Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!””

  1. Hedley Says:

    The ladies of accounting mandated that today’s dress code would be red – my sweater is rather resplendent

    I chugged down to Panera and loaded up with Bagels and Valentine’s cookies, the red gang were happy.

    Our Valentines were single cards and anonymous. No school activity unless you were the twelfth guy trying to sneak a card in to Lynne Abbott’s desk

    • katry Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Bless the ladies for keeping the day!

      You did your part quite nicely.

      I’d like to see a picture of Lynne Abbott, she who had young boys’ hearts aflutter!

      • Hedley Says:

        Ms Abbott was quite famous – she would be driven away from Dorking Grammar School in lovely red MG convertible. She and her beau would have matching wooly hats.

        For those not blessed with the attention of Lynne or a car of any description, we would drift aimlessly down Ashcombe Road to get the 470 bus home – which was a rather charming green double decker.

        Lynne was terrific and smart – people liked Lynne, a lot.

      • katry Says:

        Matching wooly hats-how romantic! Ms Abbott must have been something to lure an MG to her bidding.

        I would have been riding the bus.

        I am glad she was the full package.

  2. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I think grade school Valentine’s Day was about the same as yours though I don’t remember doing the distribution one at a time. I think we just put the cards on other kid’s desks. We gave everybody a card, too.
    It was never one of my favorite holidays and I like picking out cards. Maybe it was because we had to give them to kids we didn’t really like.

    Snowed all day yesterday. Today the wind is blowing vigorously. I thought I heard some things falling out back. I’m not going to look until the wind has stopped and it’s warmer. The sun keeps trying to shine but to no avail.

    Today is Rocky’s 5th birthday. He’s sleeping off his special chicken and kibble breakfast.

    Have a Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you have some good chocolate in one form or another. I have Neapolitan Klondike Bars. Works for me. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      That’s what we did: walked around the room putting the valentine on the kid’s desk.

      We weren’t into the everybody back then so it was whomever we liked. I remember giving a valentine to a girl nobody liked because they said she smelled. I didn’t want her to have none.

      Sunny here and warmer than it has been. We didn’t get the wind they predicted we’d get.

      Happy Birthday, Rocky!!

      My friend brought me flowers! He always remembers me-calls me his other wife!

      Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

  3. im6 Says:

    Do kids still give out Valentines at school? I suspect they do, but there’s probably some official edict that if you give one person a card, you also HAVE to give every member of the class one. That was probably always the case, but it was an unwritten rule and simply what was “done” way back then. The cards were placed in decorated cigar boxes that were lined up somewhere in the room and could only be looked at when a few of the mothers showed up in the afternoon with cupcakes and punch — lots of sugar to REALLY stoke the engines. (Today’s treats are probably all low-cal, gluten-free, peanut-free dry pieces that mostly resemble and taste like cardboard.) Most Valentines were of the small, printed-on-one-side variety, but if someone was special to someone else, an honest-to-goodness CARD might be included. Those got tongues awaggin’. Flattering, but embarrassing.

    When I was searching for a video to post on my Facebook page last night, I found this sweet version of “My Funny Valentine.” Wish I knew more (i.e., anything!) about the pretty young lady who sings it.

    • katry Says:

      I know my nephew’s son, in the second grade, was writing out one for every kid in his class. He wasn’t thrilled about having to give the girls cards, but then he is only 7. I don’t know if they had a party or not, but I figure they did.

      I love her and the uke!

  4. Bob Says:

    I hate Valentin’s day because it’s just an excuse for businesses to make money during the drab months of winter between Christmas and Easter. Hallmark, and the candy companies clean up on February 14th. Of course I know that there was a St. Valentine and his history, you tell me every year, but to me it’s just an excuse to empty the pockets of husbands and boy friends. If I forget Valentine’s day or my annaversary, my wife will make me pay with tremendous guilt. 🙂

    As a kid I filled out the cheap cards just like you and gave them to traded them with my classmates. I always gave out more than I recieved. My luck with woman hasn’t changed much over the years. 🙂

    • katry Says:

      I don’t see saying how much you care is a really bad thing. You only have to give a rose, and that would be enough. I even got flowers from my friend who always remembers me.

      Women also give gifts, not just boyfriends and husbands.

      They were the only cards available in Woolworth’s. We all gave them out. The fronts were fun to read. I don’t remember if I got more or less than I gave out.

      You gave me a chuckle with your last line. Your wife would probably say how lucky you are with her!

  5. olof1 Says:

    Thunder over here as well, very odd in February.

    Valentines has never been a big thing over here, I didn’t even know about it when I was a child. Now days commercial powers tries tio make something of it but I can’t say they are especially successful.

    I read about some schools that tried to let the children give each other Valentine cards but most schools forbade it since the bullied kids never got any and therefore felt even more bullied. Schools are being sued for not taking care of those children as it is so no such traditon will be allowed anywhere I guess.

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      Valentine’s Day has been here for as long as I can remember. It was fun in school to have a party. Wearing something is part of the tradition.

      Most schools now have every kid gave every other kid a valentine. That makes them less special I think.

      Have a great day!

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