I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big fan of this Hallmark holiday. I don’t really have a good reason why – especially since I’m such a huge fan of the assorted chocolates associated with it. Maybe it’s because there’s just so much pressure involved on what we’re “supposed” to do.
I do remember looking forward to Valentine’s Day as a kid. We’d all make shoebox mailboxes covered in red, pink and white construction paper. Elmer’s Glue would coat our little hands as we finished cutting out folded hearts in contrasting colors and lined them with lace borders. After recess we’d all file back into the classroom – each personalized shoebox sitting atop our assigned desks, eagerly awaiting candy donations and cartoon greetings. You weren’t allowed to pick and choose your valentines; everybody got one.
So all 32 kids in Mrs. Kaplan’s third grade class were my sweethearts. By the end of the day, my box would be tearing at the seams – laden with Sweethearts, cherry lollipops and individually wrapped chocolates. I’d rocket out to the playground high on sugar from what I’d already devoured of my bounty and the cupcakes someone’s mother was sure to have brought to celebrate the day.
I haven’t really celebrated it since I moved on from the decorative footwear receptacles of elementary education. Here and there my parents would get my brother and me a little something. Once I moved away to college, my grandmother would unfailingly send me a box of See’s Candy. (Oh, how I love Mary See…) Jon and I have never done anything to mark it as special.
One year Jon moseyed into work on a February 14 morning. “What’re you doing for your girlfriend today?” inquired a colleague (we weren’t married yet, so the girlfriend referred to is me). Jon casually replied that he had no plans based on my ambivalence. A horror-filled tension immediately filled the air. Didn’t he know girls were lying when they said they didn’t care about Valentine’s Day? Everyone returned to work the following day with a sadistic curiosity about how far Jon had fallen. I actually think there was some disappointment that the only result was a bit of chuckling over their concern.
I approached the holiday this year much in the same fashion as the decades previous. But then the muppets got their very first Valentine. It was a red bumble bee from two of their little friends. Cards from G.G. soon followed. I was so excited to see that she’d found not one, but TWO, great-grandson cards.
Getting more and more into the spirit, the muppets and I gathered up our gear and headed off to the NICU. Caden and Logan both gave me extremely wary looks – neither seemed to think purposely and willingly re-entering that locale was a very good idea. Caden presented Nurse June with a cliched heart-shaped box of chocolates. Logan clutched one for Nurse Susan (sorry if it’s a little chewed on.)
“Thank you for helping me get big and strong so we could go home. Will you be my Valentine?” We also sent our good vibes and healthy chubby baby thoughts to all the current NICU residents, that they may be home asking for Irish kisses next month.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and all your loved ones. My cherubic chubby little muppets send you kisses.