How I exasperated Daddy, my first Valentine, with my annual project to start and finish the decoration of my shoebox mailbox the night before I had to have it. Then, way past bedtime I would tackle the signing of the cards for each and every classmate and the special ones for the teachers. Miss Procrastination/Perfection never failed to protest loudly that she would not have enough if she made mistakes, so could Dad please go buy some more just in case. That never worked. I had to slow down or live with multiple cross-outs and start-overs on the precious mementos to all my friends. TRAGIC. Matching classmates to verses bogged down the whole ordeal even more.
The paramount importance of my own tasks must not have allowed my brain to register the efforts of my siblings. Surely they went through the motions, but I have no memory of their creations for school. There are, though, snippets of images of paper doilies, globs of glue, scissors and red construction paper scraps scattered over a kitchen table or a linoleum floor from our collaborations for family throughout those formative years.
The magical charm of Valentine’s Day faded with graduation from elementary school. Adolescence brought with it a monstrous assortment of expectations and an awareness that a shoebox mailbox might have blurred the lines between those who received and those who received-not.
Then there is the whole era of dating, marriage, motherhood. The magical charm re-emerged during my son’s grade school years; the glue/scissors/red paper messes reappeared, with precious masterpieces now tucked away in albums and boxes.
Wishes have evolved through exes and significant others to cherish the unexpected, both received and given. Deciding to share a random expression of appreciation with a family member, friend, associate or community worker can only multiply the smiles on February 14th. What can top a Valentine smile?
This was written for my Close to Home column in The Prospect-News, the local weekly in Doniphan, MO. It appeared Wednesday, February 10, 2016.