Valentine's Day

by Robert H. Spain

Valentine’s Day is one of the huge financial boons to the nation. Chocolate candy, flowers, cards, heart-shaped anything, red clothing of any kind, restaurants –all are major contributors to the retail market. The card market is enormous. Ordinary purveyors of flowers resemble Holland’s wholesale flower markets. The old tried and true square and rectangular boxes give way to the heart shaped box. Red is the color of the day. For more than 25 years, Valentine’s Day has been exponentially growing as a major financial season.

Valentine’s Day today is different from years past, but it is fondly remembered as something special. At least in elementary school we didn’t gorge ourselves on fancy “Hallmark-type” cards or specialty candies. Most of the cards were simple, mostly heart-shaped and red with a cost of 2 or 3 cents. Normally, if one wanted to be generous or gracious, they would come in perforated sheet and disassembled into 8 or 10 valentines per sheet. In the early 1930s, many of us in elementary schools looked forward to the time when we could expose our inner feelings for another. It was kind of an awkward time. How far does one go? Does the wording on the card express your real feeling? Does the recipient of the card know your feeling? For most elementary-aged students, the giving of valentine cards was something usually done during the school day and was sometimes carried out with a bit of anxious dexterity.

It was during elementary school Valentine’s Day experiences that I learned a valuable lesson from my father. (He told me a lot of things that I quickly forgot, but this lesson has lived a long time.) My father was the principal of the elementary school and a few days before Valentine’s Day, he would secure a stash of valentines. I would have my four or five to hand out on the sly or clandestinely arrange a delivery. I didn’t know much about grown-up valentine things. In my small recession-laden community, Valentine’s Day was mostly a children’s thing. But my father at home would prepare his collection of valentines and spread them out on the kitchen table to peruse. I don’t remember my age at the time but I do remember questioning what he was doing with so many valentines. It’s been a long time, but I distinctly remember him saying that they were for the students that probably would not get a valentine from anyone. Everyone, he said, needs to know that they are loved.

 

Today's blog post was written by Robert H. Spain. Robert Spain is a retired United Methodist bishop and former chaplain of the United Methodist Publishing House.

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