Somehow, an email Valentine, even some clever animated electronic card, doesn’t cut it, especially compared with homemade Valentines that require hours of production time.
Remember all the snipping, cutting, gluing, and engraving that went into creating those once-upon-a-time mid-February messages?
Years earlier, a couple of weeks before the traditional Feb. 14 event, a group of friends from my North Side neighborhood embarked on a shopping safari to the Perrysville Variety Store to stock up on supplies for that specific purpose.
The resulting inventory included paper lace doilies, a package of pink/red/white construction paper, lengths of matching shades of ribbon, rolls of pink, red and white crepe paper, and jars of paste. A key ingredient for the class party: specifically an empty shoebox, usually would be found back home.
Mom averted any creativity crisis by discovering an empty shoebox in the deep recesses of some clothing closet where it lay waiting to be found just for that purpose.
The dining room table was quickly transformed into card-making assembly lines, and sounds of snipping scissors became a hallmark of this hours-long wintry workshop project.
Once the completed cards had been addressed and stuffed into envelopes, there remained one final, but most crucial task: crafting an appropriate receptacle to hold all the cards one hoped to receive.
Because there was no guarantee that one’s decorated mailbox would attract many—or indeed, any cards, this endeavor became an early lesson in Faith.
As far as I can recall no prizes for “Best Decorated” mailbox ever were awarded, but surely many of those embellished boxes were worthy of some recognition for all the work that had gone into their creation.
Early on the legendary martyred saint’s day, Feb. 14, each ornate oblong was carefully transported to school, cocooned inside large paper sacks to ensure the safe arrival of these fragile masterpieces.
Mailboxes were displayed on a large, fabric-draped table at the back of the classroom, where they resembled so many decorated—although inedible–cakes. Throughout the day “mailmen” furtively delivered Valentines to their friends’ mailboxes.
An hour before school recessed each mailbox maker retrieved his/her fancy container from the “Mail Room”. While enjoying the sweet treats provided by PTA Moms: heart-shaped cookies slathered in buttery frosting, candy “conversation” hearts, assorted red hots, chocolates—and orange/vanilla Dixie cups—young postal patrons perused the contents of now-demolished mailboxes. Not a piece of junk mail among the lot!
Over the years I’ve collected and saved especially memorable Valentines inside an old, undecorated shoebox. It contains handmade cards from my children, and now grandchildren.
As Queen of Hearts reigning in my own castle, the décor features an accumulation of distinctive heart-shaped images, ranging from a large willow heart that’s draped with fairy lights, red and pink bows and assorted collectible ornaments, to a heart-themed quilted wall hanging, plus lots of one-of-a-kind ornaments.
No matter the season, this cardiac collection serves as a non-verbal reminder that “home is where the heart is.”