Does age affect the way we see Valentine’s Day?

Broken heart

Be my valentine!
I heart you!
Be mine!
I love you!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been bombarded greeted by these declarations long before Christmas was over. Establishments, all the way from bookstores to bakeries, have been more than happy to promote the countdown to the most awaited (or dreaded) holiday of the year.

But before any V-day lovers get their knickers in a bunch, know this will not be a rant on the evils doings of Cupid and his arrows. Nor will it be a history lesson on Saint Valentine and his role in this capitalistic venture upcoming holiday.

Rather, this will be a walk down memory lane (it’s been too long since I did one of those) to explore my attitudes and reactions to the “friendship/love” day.

And so it begins…

Age 6
I remember coming home with a self made, decorated envelope stuffed with “valentines.” Cards illustrated with fat cats and the words “You’re Puurfect, Valentine” made me giggle. The fact that so many people wanted me to be their valentine made me feel special and filled me with joy.

Age 10
Valentine cards, some of them still unopened, filled my backpack. Rushing to my room so I could continue reading “Anne of Green Gables,” I spied Nana, standing regally in the middle of the hallway, a stern look on her face. “Bella, unopened Valentine cards show a lack of respect and appreciation to your classmates. March your behind to the kitchen, pour yourself a glass of milk, and let’s read those cards!” I knew better than to protest.

Age 12
At this age, I had discovered that crafting was not only fun, but also a way to bond with friends. Since we considered ourselves too “big” to hand out valentines, we spent this day making beautiful cards out of glossy paper, lace, and glitter. The recipients? Only our very best friends (known nowadays as “besties,” “bae,” or “BFFs.”)

Age 14
Valentine cards were replaced with “candy grams.” For a mere fifty cents (which wasn’t so mere at the time), you could send friends a lollipop in the shape of a heart, accompanied by a message. Many used this method to send anonymous messages to secret crushes. The amount of candy grams received determined a person’s popularity and sadly, also had the power to undermine the self confidence and self esteem of many. At the end of the day, it was easy to see who was well liked and who was “invisible.”

Age 17
Boys had “upped” their game and arrived at school bearing gifts of flowers and heart shaped chocolate boxes. This was also the time when I received a poem from a young man named Eddie, in which he professed his undying love. I wish I could tell you what it said, but I barely skimmed the contents before shoving it into my pocket. Unfortunately, I forgot all about it and it was destroyed when Nana threw my pants in the wash. When Eddie learned of his poem’s demise (yes, I was stupid enough to tell him), he looked at me with contempt and said, “Bella, may your callous disregard for someone else’s feelings result in you never being loved. Really loved. Like I loved you but no longer do.” (Spoken like a true poet.) Eddie, if you’re reading this, please know your hex worked and to this day, I still believe love is an illusion.

Age 20
This Valentine’s Day brought love (and horror) into my life in the form of a phone call. Hearing the words, “I love you. Will you marry me?” induced a panic attack that lasted for days. (Did I mention it was my first proposal and came from an ex boyfriend I hadn’t seen in two years?)

Age 24
Second marriage proposal. This time my reaction was more positive. Although in hindsight, I would have been better served reacting the same way I had to proposal #1.

Early 30’s
Valentine’s Day was no longer a one on one affair. As a single mother, I went from recipient to delegated card buyer, to crafts expert, to writer of cards. I was also a shoulder to cry on when the Daughter didn’t receive a valentine from “the one” and the Son got too many “stupid girly cards” and none that featured Pokemon.

Age 35
Third marriage proposal. This one came from Christopher, one of my pre kindergarten students who, dressed in a long sleeved white shirt and black shorts, dropped down to one knee, and asked for my hand in marriage. To this day, the beautiful little plastic ring he offered me is one of my most valuable possessions.

Late 30’s
Valentine’s Day celebrations are just a hazy memory. I’m only reminded of this holiday’s existence by phone calls from loved ones (young and idealistic family members), eager to scream, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” Oh, and by the low hanging “Be Mine” sign at the supermarket that hit me on the head and almost gave me a concussion.

Early 40’s
Valentine’s Day? Really? Are they still celebrating that?
Note to self: Include a reminder on Google calendar for February 15. Must beat to the punch other overworked, disillusioned, and exhausted women over the age of 40 for 50% off Valentine’s Day chocolates. (Remember to wear comfortable shoes since physical altercations are very much a possibility).

Oh, chocolate.
You have the power to remind me why I’m still grateful for this holiday. Thank you for that!

Do you still celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent

What makes for a favorite thing?

I was ten years old when I saw the film, “The Sound of Music” for the first time.

I remember being enchanted by the song, “My favorite things.”

There was something magical in the knowledge that thinking of your favorite things prevented you from feeling bad.

A very creative child (toot toot), I substituted the lyrics and made up my own.

After all, it was my list of favorite things that lightened my mood and not the preferences of Julie Andrews.

Somehow at the age of ten bright copper kettles and brown paper packages tied up with string weren’t cutting it.

So instead, I would think of “thick bars of chocolate, tall glasses of milk, chocolate chip cookies and things made of silk.”

Last night I heard Julie’s tune when I stepped into a lift. It was almost a sacrilege to hear that this beautiful melody was being used as elevator music.

However, listening to it reminded me of how my made up lyrics had gotten me through the saddest, most confusing, and angry times in my life.

It was my personalized substitution of “going to a happy place.”

The elevator experience also created awareness of how much those “favorite things” have changed through the decades.

At the age of ten my favorite things included chocolate, all things shiny, arts and crafts, books, and Little Kiddles (anyone from my generation remember those?).

At the age of twenty items on my list were foreign films, all things made of brass, chocolate,  Bohemian style clothing, watermelon, tall and handsome men, Wrigley’s gum, and Al Pacino.

At the age of thirty it was chocolate, all things made of gold, tall and handsome men, Antonio Banderas, alfalfa sprouts, and hoop earrings.

Nearing forties the list  includes chocolate, tall and handsome men, all things made of platinum, diamonds, Antonio Banderas AND/OR Javier Bardem, Jelly Belly jelly beans, any item of clothing that accommodates my ass, and my dog Roxy.

It’s curious to note how the only constants in my life have been chocolate and tall, handsome men.

One which I have when I want and the other which I still continue to  dream about. You figure out which is which.

So today’s shout out goes out to favorite things that allow us to maintain our sanity, lift our spirits and make us smile.

What are some of your favorite things?