I love Valentines.
February, when I was growing up, signaled love-mystery-craft days.
My mother covered a big cardboard box with white paper and cut a slot in the top. She plunked it on the dining room table.
We cut out hearts and hung them from the lights over the box.
Then we began thinking about what kind of love we wanted to send. I have no doubt this was a good way to keep six of us quiet because this was not a group project that would be over in an hour. Our valentines took time. They were made in secret then signed with a question mark or “guess who?”
For me, making up silly ditties and love poems, cutting and gluing while harboring thoughts of receiving actual mystery mail was a thrill! That tells you something about life in the 50’s and 60’s. Envelopes arrived in the mail. Any addressed in red ink or made of luxurious paper, went into the big box. We snuck our home made cards into the slot in stealth.
My mother was absolutely mad for her husband and her children and she had a knack for making life a little more magical, thus, she planted a tradition in us.
My valentines got more involved over the years. The ones I received in art school were legendary. Art students delved into the day as much as I did. I still have illustrated envelopes, embroidered hearts and tiny books of intricately cut rice paper from those years.
I have drawers of notes and paintings, some pale from years propped up on dressers, kept in the light, too dear to put away. I sent out boat loads and eventually my children did too.
Valentine’s Day taught me a secret. I discovered that making something with a specific person in mind and with a “heart full of love”, (as my grand mother would say) results, without fail, in a better painting, drawing, message. The power of love.
On Valentine’s Day, we set the table and ate our yummy dinner around the big white box under the hearts. We opened our luxurious envelopes one at a time and the guessing game began as to who created the anonymous declarations of rapturous, pure and simple or very silly love.
Cheers, and a world of love to you!