Before American courts decided that anything even remotely to do with religion had to be purged from the schoolroom, we celebrated all types of holidays. My favorite was St. Valentine's Day. Everyone made a "mailbox" from a brown paper lunch bag and these were thumb-tacked to the wall in an orderly fashion. It was sheer joy to casually stroll by your mailbox and glance at the accumulating Valentines.
Valentines, in those days, were the punch-out variety. The first five or so were fun, but then it became a major task to extract 25 flimsy cards from their restrictive frames and assemble the paper thin envelopes. The first order of business was to sort the cards. There were always two SUPER cards to be reserved for you favorite boy and your best girlfriend. Then they had to be sorted according to the sentiment. What was appropriate to give a boy, especially one you did not like, was cause for much reflection. Then you would be left with the UGLY cards...of course for your least favorites. These contained verses like; "May your Valentine's Day be a like a bucket of squirmy worms!"or "An elephant never forgets a Valentine."
Once addressed they were dropped, sometimes surreptitiously, into the awaiting mailboxes. Of course, when the big day finally arrived and the mailbox's contents were strewn across the desk, the first order of business was to count how many Valentines you received. Then a quick opening and scanning for the all important names. Then they could be sorted into piles of winners and losers. Obviously, you hoped the winners pile was larger.
I just couldn't imagine how any day could be more exciting. Surprisingly, after our fifth-grade Valentine's party, I reached into my coat pocket and found a locket with my name on it and a boy's name on the other side. I was a little overwhelmed by the unexpected bounty and bit embarrassed to show my mother, but it catapulted me to celebrity status among my friends.
I've had numerous and wonderful Valentine's Day throughout the years, but I just want to say a special thank-you for the wonderful memory to my first real Valentine. Wherever you are, I hope your life has been a full and happy as mine.