OPINION: Valentine’s memories make today’s heart day a good one

By Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

“I claim there ain’t Another Saint
As great as Valentine.”
– Ogden Nash

“Who, being loved, is poor?”
– Oscar Wilde

It’s that special February day when folks in love – and folks who are loved – are sending and receiving all manner of heart-shaped paraphernalia.
Valentine’s Day.
If you Google it, your head will swim with all the lore and legends of saints and martyrs.
And if you’re like me, you’ll wonder how in the world anything remotely related to love came out of all that historical stuff.
But it did and now it’s a big day for florists and greeting card sellers and chocolatiers.
I was, for years, a Valentine’s Day cynic. A regular Scrooge, if you will.
But these days, I take the day in stride. I’ve realized I have no reason to be cynical, for I have some very gratifying memories of Valentine’s Days past.
I never liked Valentine’s parties in elementary school.
I think these days kids make sure they have a Valentine card for every one of their classmates.
Not so, in the dark ages at Lizzie Horn Elementary School.
I just remember at some point during the party, while a few of our moms – room mothers, they were called – would serve cupcakes, cookies and Hawaiian Punch, envelopes would begin to appear atop the desks in our classroom.

Thanks, Mom
The night before the party, I’d signed my name to a few of the boxed Valentine’s cards, stuffed them in their envelopes and scrawled the name of a few classmates who were also my friends.
Some kids got more cards than others.
I can’t imagine being concerned about that. But, perhaps, when I was in elementary school quantity seemed more important than quality.
I knew the people who gave me cards were my friends and they gave me cards because they wanted to.
My mother must have been worried I might be on the short end when it came to cards. There was always a larger envelope on my desk that contained a special card – one that did not come in a box of mass-produced heart cards – and it was always signed the same each year: “Happy Valentine’s Day, Love, Mom.”
Back then getting a card from one’s mother along with the cards from classmates and friends was embarrassing.
Today, the memory of it warms my heart and makes me smile.

Thanks, Dad
A Valentine’s gift from my dad more than a decade ago is another of my fondest memories.
My paternal grandfather had just died and my dad, his brothers and my grandmother were going about the business of planning a funeral.
In the midst of all the sadness, my dad remembered it was Valentine’s Day, and he stopped and bought two cute plastic bears filled with red hots for his two adult daughters.
A lovely gesture indeed.
Happy Valentine’s Day.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.