Before there were roses, diamonds, and for some, disappointments, there were the paper bags that everyone would prepare. Teachers looked on cringing as we made a mess with glue and glitter. The pink and red construction paper grew thin and wet with excessive glue.
As we let the white paper bags dry, the teachers read to us happy little books about love and how Roses are red and Violets are blue, and how we could make two last lines that rhymed.
Before everyone went to the buses to go home, we’d clutch a class list in our small mittens and run out of the door-ready to label each and everyone of our little cards with our favorite cartoon or animal on it.
We’d set the list down before us and write everyone’s name on a metallic or shiny card, not without first making sure our best friends got our favorite cards with extra stickers, and that one boy we thought was cute got the special card bigger than the rest that got the lollipop nestled into it.
On Valentine’s Day we’d make a line in front of the white paper bags which hung off of the white board ledge, and we’d go bag by bag dropping goodies into each. Even that particular kid who made fun of us or the kid we didn’t like got a nice card. It was about giving to everyone whether they deserved it or not.
We’d eat cupcakes with heart sprinkles and sugar cookies glazed in pink.
Still under the influence of sugar, we’d sit on our bed at home and pour out the content of the bag and we’d begin reading the cards and sorting them into piles of : has candy, the coolest cartoons and the ones that brought awesome fake tattoos that we’d use wisely.
We’d collect all of the candy. Give a chocolate or two to our mom and dad and then we’d try to keep the rest as the secret stash for the times when we got punished or sent to our rooms. Hilariously, sometimes they didn’t even make it to the end of the week.
Valentine’s Day was a time of friendship, sugar in many forms and joy. It was a time when we’d look down at our hands crusted with dry glue and red specks of glitter and we’d smile because we knew. We really knew what love was.