St. Valentine was a Roman priest and martyr. How on earth we came to celebrate him by giving out candy hearts and Hershey's kisses is beyond me, but that's beside the point. Growing up, we always made our pilgrimage to the drugstore to buy a cardboard box of wallet-sized valentines, with the pre-printed "to" and "from" on the back of a picture of kittens or teddy bears, declaring on each note that "I heart u" or some smooshy sentiment like it. We'd go home and fill in the blanks, and the next day at school, we'd pass one out to each of the kids in our class and that was it. Maybe some cupcakes and kool-aid (this was before anyone cared about food allergies or red dye #40).
Now up to this year, we've homeschooled, so holiday parties were with our homeschool co-op and were relatively low-key. (Read: cheap).
Times have changed. This year the 3rd graders didn't have a party. They've done a lot of party-ing as of late, and the room mothers (bless them) decided they didn't need another shindig. The kindergartners, however, are another story. So Griffin and I went to Walgreen's to buy a box of cards. We went up and down the holiday aisle. There were boxes of candy, big red teddy bears holding roses, and cute little toys with a few pieces of candy attached, but no cardboard box of cards for 99 cents. We tracked down the store employee (Jonquel) and asked her where the kids Valentine's cards were. Jonquel had to go get a ladder to show me. On the very top shelf, out of reach, were six boxes of cards. $2.99/box. Of course, as Jonquel was up on her ladder, Griffin managed to find a package of cool 3-D Star Wars sticker-Valentine's that were $6. For a pkg. of 15. We needed 20. He also "encouraged" (read: whined) me to buy some candy to attach to each card. Say what? But, being that I'm not a party pooper, I agreed. (read: I gave in).
I have to admit, when he came home yesterday with a hand decorated bag full of pencils, candy, and cards signed by each of the kids, I almost teared up. (I would have if he and the 3 year old weren't in a rumble for a piece of candy at that moment.) I read each card and looked at the precious 6 year old signatures, most in all caps, and was touched. OK, so there was nothing deep or peronally meaningful in the assorted G-Force, Star Wars, and Hannah Montana cards, it was just sweet. I remembered back to my school days and how special I felt getting a card from everyone. Whether they liked me or not. Even from red headed Kyle Bozencurtz, who was the first person to call me "four-eyes" in the 3rd grade when I had to get glasses.
Last night Griffin and Sissy lay in bed with me watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics. Griffin told me about his party, and how Sam's mom made a heart shaped King Cake, and how he was going to give all the pink pencils to Anne Claire....and the more he talked, the more I looked at him and realized that he felt special, too.
And right before she fell asleep, Sissy looked at me, pecked me on the cheek, and said, "Happy Balentime's Day, Mama."