Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I have always been fond of Valentines Day



I liked it so much when I was in grade school. For one thing, it was a bit of festivity in the middle the Minnesota winter. Christmas was a long past, spring still a long way off. Valentines Day added some color and interest.

But mostly I liked it because it meant playing with paper and scissors and paste, and being able to use my imagination. In school we made construction paper cards for our parents, and decorations for the bulletin boards and windows. (Much cheerier than the plain white paper snowflakes that had been taped up all though January). But the best part was making our mail boxes.

Everyone brought a shoebox from home. Then, for what seems in my recollection like a whole week before the big day but was probably only a couple of days, we pasted white butcher paper over the outside, and ruffled and ruched pink and red crepe paper swags, and worked rosettes of tissue paper and added more construction paper hearts (if there was still room). The best part was that, while the teacher gave us some ideas, we could really do whatever we wanted. Mine were always just beautiful, if I say so myself.

The teachers wisely and kindly decreed that no one had to bring valentine cards, but if you did there had to be one for every student in class, and they handed out mimeographed class lists so there could be no mistake. This ruling was fine by me because 1) I wasn't too sure how many cards I would get without it and 2) more importantly it meant more playing with paper and scissors at home.

In those days you could buy boxes of little cards and envelopes all set to go. But the Ben Franklin had something much better: books about the size of paper doll books, with pages of valentines printed on light card stock to be cut or punched out. They were all different. Some larger, some smaller, some humerous, some romantic in a Victorian sort of way. A few of the best had glitter. The envelopes, printed on lighter paper, had to be cut out and folded and pasted together. And then there was the process of sorting them all and decideding who got which card. Nothing romantic for any of the boys, that's for sure. I saved the doves and forget-me-nots and glitter for the girls, who, hopefully, would be more likely to appreciate their asthetic refinement.

Making Valentines sort of disapppered from my radar through Jr. High and High School. Since then, I've had a couple of periods when I hauled out paper doilies and stickers and contruction paper, and thoroughly enjoyed the process. But what I would really love would be to have my hands on one of those Ben Franklin books again, just to see if they were anything close to as wonderful as they seemed at the time.

Looking back like this, it's sort of surprising I'm not a scapbooker. I guess it's because I discovered yarn before that trend took off.


5 comments:

Amy said...

Heh. I always hated Valentine's Day, because my parents had a side business as photographers and insisted on making photo valentines with ME on them. You can imagine how popular that made me in about 4th grade.

magnusmog said...

What a lovely story - you make me feel bad for being a grumpy unromantic person who once gave her husband a fresh fish as a gift!

YarnThrower said...

I've always liked Valentines' Day, too. It always seemed to be a day full of hope -- no expectations, though generally just a day when people seemed nicer and appreciative -- maybe more a day of friendship!

It's not too late for you to start scrapbooking, just sayin'.....

gail said...

Ohhhhh, what wonderful valentine memories. Yes, valentines day peaked for me in elementary school also! It was so much fun to decorate our shoebox "mailboxes." Life was good in those days....

TracyKM said...

I totally remember those Valentine books. Some needed assembly--slot A and tab B, little things that moved, etc. I loved them, and I really them when I've been searching for Valentines' for the kids to hand out. A box of Princess cards, almost all the same, with just room for names, seems so lacking in spirit. But I don't want to get into making 40 Valentines with a 7 year old perfectionist and a 5 year old princess-diva and a 2 year old!!