Does everyone remember those years in elementary school when we’d bring valentines from home and put them in a big “mailbox” decorated with paper hearts? I loved the anticipation! The box would sit up near the teacher’s desk, and all day I’d sneak glances at it, waiting for that magic moment when we’d all take a turn “delivering” the valentines to each other. It was a favorite holiday of mine; a happy day about love! My parents did not have a lot of money, and even if they did, I am sure my dad would not have wasted it on such things as store bought Valentine’s Day cards. However, I took delight in designing and decorating valentines for my fellow classmates. Using construction paper and crayons, my pictures were not perfect and my words were misspelled, but I was always pleased with my creations, especially because I would attach a lollypop, (saved up from several trips to the bank over a month long period.) I tried to individualize them, making each one different. Of course, my drawings were coarse and generally they all looked alike, but in my mind (and my memory), they were perfect!
For such anticipation, one would think I thoroughly enjoyed the day, sipping on the plastic glass of fruit punch and eating the heart shaped cookies provided by the teacher. But in elementary school, it always turned out to be a day of huge disappointment. I always received many valentines because I was friendly to everyone, but it wasn’t for me that I was disappointed. It saddened my heart that I would get so many valentines when other, less popular children would get so few, or, shudder, none… Before we would leave school that day, I would have split up my own valentines to share with the students who were not so fortunate, but I knew that this did not mitigate the fact that the other students did not think to send them one personally.
Many years have passed, and I am now a parent, and even a grandparent. When my children were in elementary school, I taught them to care about everyone in their class. For days like Valentine’s Day, they were to consider other children’s feelings and make sure that there was a card for every single student in their rooms, especially the “special ed” students who may have joined their class from time to time, (and, undoubtedly, would be joining the class for the small Valentine’s Day’s festivities.) It was not expensive, a few penny valentines and pieces of candy attached. But it was a priceless lesson. One to care for others no matter what their position is in life, popular or unpopular, with a disability or without, rich or poor, pretty or not too pretty, saint or sinner. (Yes, they had to give a valentine to the kiddo who was always in trouble, talked fresh to the teacher, and pushed them down on the ground once during recess.) That lesson on Valentine’s Day was a life lesson for them, and they have all grown into children who are considerate of others.
To read more about our life as a family, please read my book. Here is a link: