To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day
All in the morning betime,
And I am a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
The day before Valentine’s Day (VD), I am busy knitting a beautiful red and black silk shawl/wrap. Very timely. Watching my grandchildren carefully address VD cards to give to their classmates, I had a flashback to my childhood and the only VD I had.
I’ve mentioned before I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness (JW); my mother was a die-hard, true-believer (a bit too close for comfort to the mother played by Piper Laurie in Brian DePalma’s classic 1976 film Carrie). As a JW, my mother forbid all manner of fun – including all the holidays and celebrations normally enjoyed by schoolchildren in the U.S. (Anything not approved by the JWs was deemed as a “pagan celebration” and/or part of an ancient “fertility rite.” Those were reasons given for denying my request to wear fishnet hose and get my ears pierced.)
This, of course, meant Valentine’s Day was off the table.
By the time I was in third grade, I had experienced three embarrassingly awful VD events at school. Every person in my class – boys and girls alike – yearly exchanged VD cards; I was empty handed every year. I had no cards to give to my classmates.
The day before VD of my third grade, my father was home and saw me looking particularly morose. He asked me what was wrong, and I said, “It’s VD tomorrow.”
He asked, “Do you have cards to give all your classmates?” I shook my head and stared at my feet, embarrassed.
“Do you want to give cards,” he asked kindly.
I saw my mother out of the corner of my eye, knitting with intensity while giving me what could only be described as an “evil eye” (though she’d probably have described it as “righteous indignation”). I knew I would pay for it later but was so tired of feeling left out, so I looked up at my dad and nodded.
“Get your coat,” he said, as he grabbed the car keys.
We drove to a drug store a few miles away and patiently stood in the aisle as I found the ones I wanted. When we got home, he sat across the kitchen table from me, reading the newspaper, as I happily wrote out my VD cards. My mother sat in the other room, making sure I could see her whenever I looked up. I knew she was there; I could hear her needles clicking. When I glanced up I would see her looking about as pleasant as a gargoyle.
That was my first and last VD as a child. I had a great day at school though had nightmares for a good month after my mother was done putting visions of god’s righteous punishment in my head.
Jump ahead many decades … The first year with Thor, he asked me what I thought of VD. I replied that I thought it might just qualify as one of the dumbest holidays invented. (Proverbial pregnant pause) His response: “Oh. I think it’s rather sweet.” (Gulp)
I have to admit, Thor always makes me feel special, but getting two dozen roses for Valentine’s Day makes me feel very special. I think people forget roses come in an array of colors! This year I got white roses … aren’t they beautiful? (I move them with me from room to room.)