Monday, February 14, 2011
Happy happy Valentine's
Valentine's day was probably a bit more meaningful to me as a kid than any other time in my life. I wasn't much of a romantic as a kid and I'm still not so much these days. I remember Valentine's day as being a day of collective effort in the classroom and promoting the warm and fuzzies. Cookie decorating and sweets abounds. A real day for people like me to indulge my sweet tooth.
I was forbidden to ever buy a card as a kid. My Dad would ensure all cards that we gave to people were hand-made. The day before Valentine's Day, our dining room table turned into a conveyor belt and I was the machine, churning out Valentine's cards by the box full. My Dad would cut the card paper to size for me and I would pull out my coloured pencils and draw away. My mind was always racing, coming up with new motifs for each card, personalized for each kid in my class as well as the teacher and teacher's assistant. By the end of the night the tabletop was littered with pencil shavings and 30 or so hand-drawn cards. We would look at the list of kids in my class after the card-athon, just to double check that I had not forgotten anyone (I have a good memory for people, so this never happened). This went on from the age of 5-10, until my Dad decided one year to introduce potato stamps!
After a day of fun heart-filled activities, I would take my Valentine's mailbox home and take a look at all the cards I had received. I used this as an opportunity to analyze the printing of my class mates and silently criticize the poor judgment of spacing between letters and words. Even though I worked really hard, I never compared my efforts with others. I was just happy I got the job done. I didn't favour the homemade over the store bought. I sort of liked the Ninja Turtle (the cute bubble-faced ones, not the mean looking ones with no eyes) and Garfield cards. Who wouldn't?
The other day I was assisting an art class full of kids who had to design Valentine's cards on Photoshop. We first talked about what "love" meant. Overall everyone agreed that it's awesome to give and receive love amongst family and pets. One kid made puking noises and refused to say "love" because he associated it with gross love- adult love. While everyone was creating happy bees with hearts, he opted for drawing a snake with an evil grin. I can understand this sentiment. Love can be nice when you're older and ready to understand it, but it gets gross when a day is manufactured to exploit that meaning. Being a kid on Valentine's Day is the best. Growing up, I associated it with accepting and celebrating appreciation for other people. There was nothing more satisfying than getting a card from a classmate you didn't get along with. I was reminded that people were still capable of being okay. Even if their Mom or Dad made them do it.
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