Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

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By Diane Forrest,

The days surrounding Valentine's Day were always exciting when I was going to elementary school.  We would spend time every afternoon decorating a cardboard box to place on our desks for our classmates to deposit valentines during our class party.  The night before the big day, I would go through the cards my mother bought and pick which valentine I would give to what classmate.  I would pick out the teacher's card first, that was easy, and there would only be one or two "Teacher" cards.  Next, if there was a boy in my class that I really liked I would pick out an extra special valentine.  Not too mushy, but it had to be more special than the rest.  I loved getting the valentines that had little heart suckers attached to them, and after the party I would rush home to go through my cards to see if the boy I liked sent me a special valentine too.
A Diane special
I love the Victorian Valentine cards, and I also like the earlier cards from the 1960's.  My husband kept his cards from when he was a young boy; however they were accidentally tossed out after his mother passed away.  He did manage to save one from his favorite teacher though. Cards for classrooms today are not as sweet or special as they once were.  This year the selection was rather bleak, once had monkeys on it, the other were 3-D cards with 70's symbols.  I guess traditions change every year.  This year I decided to go back to the romantic Victorian era and make my own special valentines with cards, ribbons and lace as seen in the picture.
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Every Valentine's Day morning I would wake up to find a small heart shaped box of chocolates sitting on my bed side table.  That was always the best thing ever.  My first year away from college on Valentine's Day I ran to the post office box to see what was waiting for me.  Of course I was heartbroken, and called my father in tears wondering how he could have forgotten me on that special day.  I guess he never knew how special those chocolate filled hearts were to me, but the very next day I had a box of chocolate waiting for me.

When I got married my husband took great pains to pick just the right card for me.  He would spend hours reading each one until he found the perfect one.  Then he would hand it to me with a box of chocolate, beaming because he had done such a good job.  It was really hard for him when he became bedridden and could no longer pick a card out, but I have the last "card" he wrote on a piece of paper taped to my desk and I am able to see it every day and am reminded how much he loved me.  I also have all the other cards he sent through the years saved in my special heart box.

For some reason my son has grown up to be a Valentine Day hater.  I don’t know if it is because he didn’t like the commercialism or the fact that he didn't have a valentine.  When I met the girl who would eventually become his wife, one of the first things I told her was about his dislike of Valentine's Day, and she should make her feelings known to him about the subject or risk getting her feelings hurt on that big day.  I don't know how his feelings about Valentine's Day are now, but I do know he puts forth a good effort to remember the day for his wife.
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Numerous Christian Martyrs were named Valentine, the first was 197 A.D.  The third Saint Valentine was murdered in Africa on February 14.  It wasn't until the 14th century that St. Valentine's became linked to romance.  Legend has it that St Valentine was persecuted as a Christian and interrogated by Roman Emperor Claudius II in person. Claudius was impressed by Valentine and had a discussion with him, attempting to get him to convert to Roman paganism in order to save his life. Valentine refused and tried to convert Claudius to Christianity instead. Because of this, he was executed. Before his execution, he is reported to have performed a miracle by healing the blind daughter of his jailer. Since Legend a Aurea still provided no connections whatsoever with sentimental love, appropriate lore has been embroidered in modern times to portray Valentine as a priest who refused an unattested law attributed to Roman Emperor Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married men did not make for good soldiers. The priest Valentine, however, secretly performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out about this, he had Valentine arrested and thrown in jail.
There is an additional modern embellishment to The Golden Legend, provided by American Greetings to, and widely repeated despite having no historical basis whatsoever. On the evening before Valentine was to be executed, he would have written the first "valentine" card himself, addressed to a young girl variously identified as his beloved, as the jailer's daughter whom he had befriended and healed. It was a note that read "From your Valentine.
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Today, on Valentine's Day, don't forget to show your special someone your love and appreciation for them.

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