Valentines Day: A Personal History

This year's care package (and a gift for my sister-in-law, who has a birthday close to Valentines Day)

This year’s care package (and a gift for my sister-in-law, who has a birthday close to Valentines Day)

I have always loved Valentines Day, whether I had a boyfriend in a given year or not. I remember in elementary school, they used to sell carnations for some reason and the teachers would deliver them to your friends or whichever random kid you had a crush on that week. A pink one meant you were buddies but a RED ONE meant it was real 6th grade love forever. It was the best.

In college one year, my friend Christina and I made valentines and sold them at our college town’s coffee shop. It was so much fun to make them and we picked up a few bucks, too. A couple years later, while we were both living in Columbus, I’d get together with Christina again to make some cards for our friends, and by happenstance invite a co-worker I was just getting to know to come along. It was the first time we hung out outside of the office, and that co-worker, Eileen, would go on to be another one of my closest friends. That’s the power of a silly little holiday I have always loved celebrating in my own way.

I don’t remember when this started (my grandpa would say much earlier than it really did, I’m sure) but for years now, I’ve sent a care package to my grandpa for Valentine’s Day. It almost always involves a small plush toy, candy, and in more recent years, a batch of homemade cookies. I’ve only forgotten one year, and it’s only because a week earlier my mom was diagnosed with cancer and it, among other things I’m sure, kind of slipped my mind. He didn’t bring up the error until a long time later, but I’ve been extra-careful to plan ahead ever since.

This year, he wanted a teapot, of all things. It was surprisingly hard to track down, but I found one Saturday.

I rarely remember the things I’m given on Valentines Day (sorry, ex-boyfriends), but I always remember what I give. I’ve always made a big deal about it, and while that can usually mean having high expectations (a condition of which I’ve certainly been guilty), I’ve never really had a Valentines Day that let me down. With that, there is one gift I do remember: The first February after I moved to Chicago, single and jobless, my step-mom sent me a giant box of homemade cookies — at least five different kinds. She said she wanted to make sure I had a good Valentines Day that year, and I will never forget that she did it.

This year, I may not have a homemade dinner planned for anyone or the perfect handmade card or gift, but I do have a nontraditional celebration in store: Season two of “House of Cards” and takeout with a great girlfriend. Nothing says Valentines Day like Kevin Spacey and an exaggerated southern drawl.

Maybe I’ll even have time to make some cards before Friday. Happy (early) Valentines Day, all.

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