Valentines for all
Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 8:01 pm
By: By Lisa Smartt
I’d like to thank Lorrie Browning for this column idea. She is one of the many runners-up in the “Help Lisa Smartt Write a Newspaper Column” contest. Lorrie, you rock!
It was Valentine’s Day 1972. I desperately wanted Bill Hughes to like me. We were in third grade and I believed it was my destiny to marry Bill and live in a home in the country where we would raise beautiful children and eat cake batter and stay up all night playing Twister™. My mom lovingly suggested that I not disclose my carefully-crafted plan to 9-year-old Bill. What a wise woman! Had I told Bill of my undying love, our playground romance would have marred an otherwise fun and innocent Valentine’s Day celebration. Thanks, Mom. Your wisdom ruled the day. (Plus, everyone knew he liked Amanda Cunningham and not me. Emotional bullet dodged.)
Do you remember when Valentine’s Day was about fun, friendship, watery Kool-Aid™ and yummy cupcakes? Do you remember writing the names of every classmate on cheap cards? Do you remember passing out heart-shaped candy and lollipops because Valentine’s Day was a day to honor the love of friends and teachers? Yeah. It was a day we anticipated because we would celebrate with sugar and funny cards and free pencils. Because everyone was instructed to bring cards for everyone in the class, no one felt left out. We were all the recipients of friendship and kindness. We all received love. Even when Bill Hughes stuck an extra Blow Pop on Amanda’s card, no real harm was done. I mean, I still took the card he gave me and taped it to my bedroom door. It was shaped like a globe and read, “You’re out of this world, Valentine.” (I knew that was code for: I want to marry you and live in the country and raise beautiful children with you and eat cake batter and stay up all night playing Twister.) I was blessed.
Then, something almost tragic happened. In middle school or high school, Valentine’s Day shifted to a day about “relationships.” There’s not a middle schooler alive who knows one thing about “relationships” ... but, no matter. Valentine’s Day was no longer a day to bring cards for everyone in the class. It was no longer about cupcakes and Kool-Aid and free pencils. It was a day to bring carnations or candy to a “special someone.” It was a day to feel rejected when your “special someone” didn’t think you were special. Middle school and high school brought a tragic end to general Valentine’s Day fun as we knew it. Most of us stopped celebrating altogether. After all, cupcakes and Kool-Aid were childish things. And “love” was too painful.
In adulthood, Valentine’s Day became even more stressful. Does anyone love me? Will it be a day of mourning for those who are not in “serious relationships”? Will a husband or boyfriend buy the “right” gift? Will he make special plans? The solution? Why can’t we learn from the average third-grader? Take cupcakes to work. Give hugs to your co-workers. Make Kool-Aid and take it to a neighbor. Buy cheap cards and send them to a long list of people. Pass out free pencils. Don’t be so self-focused that you wonder, “Who is going to love me?” Instead, reach out and love those around you. Let’s make Valentine’s Day fun again.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 2.11.09
Lisa Smartt, The Smartt View