Valentine memories

Ann Swanson

When you look around lately everything seems to be coming up red, pink, and white. The stores had the stuff for Valentine’s Day out before the Christmas stuff was put away.

We never did much for Valentine’s Day – after I got married. Before we married my beau brought me candies in one of those pretty little hearts. What a rip-off they were. The candy was not so good and there were just a few pieces in each box. One box in particular comes to mind.

I was living in an apartment in Jamestown. It was furnished and had a stove to keep it warm. My beau brought the candy when he visited. Of course, I enjoyed a piece and let him have one too. One morning I forgot to turn down the heat. I took off for school, but when I returned the pretty box of candy was filled with a bunch of goo. They were all soft. I put them into the refrigerator and they were saved. I would not have enjoyed telling my boyfriend that I melted all of the candy!

Through the years most of the Valentines at our house were homemade. This came naturally for me. When I was young I had a special box with colored paper. From that stash of paper I created all of my own cards. It took me a long time to create special cards for all of my friends but it was fun. Each card was different, too. That made each one special.

When the children were small we bought books of valentines to make. The trickiest part of that was making sure all of the envelopes worked. The children always enjoyed their day of crafting. Sometimes we even made everything from scratch. Then we had to make sure that they fit into the envelopes that we had.

We followed the teacher’s instructions and the children signed their valentines but did not address them to anyone special. When they got to school they passed them out to the other children. This was the preschool era when no one could read.

When I was teaching kindergarten I did something similar. After all, I had to read all of the opened cards to the children since they could not read. Actually, I think I let them put names on the outsides so they could match them up. I hate to tell you how long that took but the children really enjoyed it.

At home, our celebrations were simple. I baked some cutouts and decorated them. I usually made some red gelatin hearts as well. Sometimes I molded fudge into the heart molds for the children to take to their teachers. Of course, the children each had some special candy that they liked. We almost always had conversation hearts. The children enjoyed reading those.

Once the children got to high school they came home with carnations. The student council sold carnations to be given to those you wanted to honor. Sometimes there was quite a bouquet of flowers since both children brought home flowers.

One year when we were empty nesters I fixed a special meal for my husband and I. I spread a tablecloth out on the floor for a picnic in the living room. I do not recall what I fixed, but it was fun to sit on the floor and eat our supper in front of the television. I think we ate by oil lamp to create the right atmosphere. That was a meal that never was forgotten. My husband often commented about our romantic picnic.

Really, I think that all of hubbub about valentines is uncalled for. People spend money they cannot afford for things that are really not necessary. Love should be shown all year long. It is not just for a special day.

While I was watching some of the Hallmark movies this last weekend I saw one lady get a beautiful bouquet of red roses. That would have been the last thing that I wanted. If my husband sent me roses I would think he was trying to get rid of me. I have an allergy to them and they make me sneeze.

For those of you who have not yet indulged in purchasing a valentine try something new. Do something special for your valentine. Make a special dinner. Fix breakfast in bed. Do some task around the house that has been left undone for a long time. Those things will not go unnoticed. They do not cost a great deal either since you both have to eat anyway.

Be sure to say Happy Valentine’s Day though so your spouse realizes just what you have done. Even a gift such as that can be romantic!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at