Valentine’s Day has always been bittersweet. I think that it started in grade school when your teacher said that everyone had to send a valentine to every classmate. EVERY CLASSMATE – even the classroom bully and the girl who was still sucking her thumb in third grade!
So you had this packet of valentines, and a list of your classmates. Fanning out the cards face up, you placed your favorite card to the right, and in descending order, you worked to your left at which point you had to decide whether the least attractive card went to the classroom bully or the thumb-sucking girl. Choosing was brutal.
It was brutal deciding which cards you’d give to whom, but it was even more brutal opening your own cards. The cards were visible proof of your status in the classroom. In my case, I ranked in the lower quarter.
Given my ranking, you would think that I would have some compassion for Ruby, the student who sucked her thumb in third grade and on through high school! Ruby was a noisy – a slurping sucker. I remember sitting behind her in study hall. I was embarrassed. She was a blight on all females, and I wanted her gone.
And then, some years later, after Ruby had graduated, I learned that she was the unwed mother of two. Listening to the radio and hearing “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town” was a chastising moment. I wish that I could travel back and time, and befriend Ruby.
Not that I’m involved in elementary education, but if I were, I’d prohibit teachers requiring all students to exchange valentines. Valentines don’t build community or respect; rather, they exacerbate the existing social divide.
Valentine’s Day has always been bittersweet. With the perceived notion that February 14th is a special day between two lovers, it can be lonely if one of the lovers is not you. It is good to remember that not everyone is hot, disheveled, and in the throes of passionate love.
Love comes in many forms: for me, first and foremost, loving friends and family. But I love the externals too: a good book, a letter sealed with a kiss, a fat cat purring on my lap. And the list goes on: in my case, fresh snow that will top-up the water table, glittering, ice-clad trees, a blazing fire, and our dog Oogie asleep at my feet.
As for passion, I’m too tired to dance until closing. Although I remember doing so and then going out for breakfast before calling it ‘a night.’ My passion is more quiet all the time. Our youngest grandson, Jackson, fills the bill.