Wednesday, February 10, 2010

She valentines...She valentines not...


When I was little, Valentine's Day was one of the many things that were 'verboten'.  Jehovah's Witnesses' children are not allowed to participate in the valentine crafts or valentine exchanges that take place at school.  It is not easy to always be different and to have to try to explain, as a child to other children, why you are so weird and why you won't send or accept a valentine's day card - and thus what kind of a strange family you inhabit.
I obviously survived the trauma without too many scars.  The thing I found the most difficult was not being able to make valentine's day cards or to purchase the novelty coloring books of valentines that you could cut out.  They looked like so much fun!  Well, some years I was a disobedient, naughty little Jehovah's Witness, for I would spend some of my allowance on those books and keep them secretly at school.  Before cutting them out I would linger over the different designs and sayings, considering carefully to whom I would give them.  Some were funny, while others seemed more serious, so one had to choose with discretion.  I recall one of the biggest decisions was deciding which one to give the teacher.  How I loved it.  Of course, I then had the problem of some kid saying, "But last year you said you couldn't give valentine's cards!" 
So my personal reality would creep up on me, and I would feel bad and guilty for engaging in a 'pagan' activity.  (I didn't know what 'pagan' meant - but it certainly sounded bad!  Pagan actually means 'from the countryside' if my adult memory serves, but came to mean those not associated with the true church which I guess was only found in the cities .... go figure!)  And so I lived my little life either fraught with shame for being different and weird, or encumbered by guilt for going against god and church.
This long preamble is to set the context for some of my posts of the next few days, that might be a bit over the top with valentines I have made.  Guess I never did quite get my fill of this lovers' holiday.  I know I received many cards back then (which I also hid in my desk at school), but it was the luscious delight of fabricating these little love cards that made my heart swell.

How involved do you get with Valentine's Day?  Do you make or purchase gifts for your loved one(s)?  Or does it just seem like another over the top merchandising extravaganza to you?  Because we never did celebrate the day (much :-/) as children, and because we both have birthdays that precede valentine's day, we don't officially celebrate it.  Pledges of love and appreciation have been made a couple of weeks previous in our birthday cards.  However, having a blog as a new venue for expression I thought I would indugle my frustrated childhood desires and post a few.  Enjoy....

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  1. Involved? Not at all. Sure, I did the valentine thing in school - and obviously came up short because the popular kids got tons and me? Well, not so much.

    Later on it never really appealed to me, other than once buying a pair of white silk boxers with hearts on them for Mr. Jazz.

    We both basically just ignore it - though it is one of our best friends' birthday, which makes it a special day for us.

  2. I always loved Valentine's Day growing up because my father ALWAYS bought something for "his" girls. All his life. It was hard to experience Valentine's Day after he died. My husband isn't much of a romantic, so I'm lucky if I get a card. We MIGHT go out to dinner, but more likely than not I'll make a dinner. I did love exchanging valentine's as a kid.

    That must have been extremely hard for you as a child and having to sit back while other kids exchanged the cards. Nothing like being different!

  3. Hi Bonnie,
    I remember two JW girls in my elementary school. They had to go into the cloakroom (Cloaks? I guess I've just dated myself)
    during the reading of the Lord's Prayer. They didn't participate in V-Day, Easter, Christmas, Halloween either. They were forever being "excused" from the artsy stuff the rest of us did for those occasions. At least they had each other. During later years things got easier for them - the reading of the prayer in school was either abolished or abandoned, and we didn't do those artsy things in junior and senior high.
    I'm sorry you had to go through so many times of being "different" in your childhood - it's hard to be different for ANY reason during the childhood years. It probably made you stronger in some way, though.
    DH and I aren't going out for dinner for V-Day because we are on the cleanse. Then again, we usually don't, because we hate crowds and noise and price gouging. We ARE going to go to our favourite restaurant apres cleanse. Feb 22?
    I guess I'll have to take it easy. It's French cooking with creamy sauces and interesting wines and yummy desserts. Talk about a brick wall of anti-cleanse...heh heh heh...Kathryn in BC

  4. i will write a poem and leave it on her pillow...

  5. Hi Bonnie

    Valentines Day is a relatively new thing down under and I would be a cynic and say that it has been promoted by the big stores with one goal in mind. We never knew of it as kids...But when my kids went to school they would often have single roses for sale on the day as a fundraiser for the school's world vision charities.
    We don't celebrate it personally - the young ones may go out for dinner.

    My daughter told me that in Japan Christmas Eve has been misconstrued by the young generation as the big night of the year for romance...the restaurants and Love hotels do a bustling trade....

    Happy days

  6. Fortunately for Joe and I, we celebrate the anniversary of our first date (2/13) instead. It is a lot easier to get restaurant reservations the day before the masses converge! EFH

  7. My daughter was born on Valentine's Day 1965. They brought her to me with a little lace heart!
    Husband and I just exchange notes or cards! I make simple treats for the grandchildren.

  8. It depends. Some years it feels more important than other years. My favorite memory is of my husband sending me a dozen red roses - but thought it would be cute to put our three year olds name on the card instead of mine. His idea was that I would enjoy the roses and our daughter would have the fun of accepting them from the flower delivery person. Well, she grabbed them and immediately headed up to her room! They were her roses and that was that! My husband, chagrined, didn't send them that way again.

    We are having a romantic dinner at home this year. Maybe crab (for me) and steak (my husband), a lovely salad and something really decadent for dessert. We really dislike going out to dinner on this day.

    What about you?

  9. I was thinking about Valentine's Day today. It seems increasingly people make more of a fuss of it here, than they did when I was young.

    When I was young, I don't think it even registered with me at least. But that's the way it is. So many celebrations from America gradually find their way down here to Australia.

    My kids pay attention to it now, but I don't. Never have and probably never will. It seems too commercial and contrived for me, but I'm happy for others to enjoy it.

  10. Someone (a childless woman who wished she wasn't) once said to me that, for a mother, every day is Valentine's Day. I think she's right.

    I don't like all the commercialization of Feb 14 although I do give in some years and give a card or plan something special. But I resist mightily assigning a day to the obligatory expression of love and the consequent disappointment if it doesn't happen. Having said that, I am a hopeless romantic and my Fave Belgian is pretty much along those lines too.

  11. Looking forward to seeing your beautiful creations Bonnie. I think it's become a rather over-commercialized day, as I'd prefer a Valentine just on any ole' day of the week, but it's nice to be reminded of how much you are cared about and loved.

  12. I was at the mall with my wife yesterday while she went into Hallmark to buy Valentines Day's cards for our grandchildren. I watched three men go into the store after her and each was out again within two or three minutes.

    I was struck by the gender difference in the care taken in the purchase of such cards.

    Today I go to buy Linda's card and wonder how long it will take me.

  13. we're equal opportunity ignorers of holidays. don't do Valentines Day. My main objection to this and other holidays is that it has become so totally commercialized. We do it because the stores tell us to do it and how to do it and how much money we have to spend to do it right. Of course, as a little girl I loved it but by the time I was in jr high and high school, I dreaded it because no boys ever gave me valentines. At my high school, one of the clubs did singing valentines where they would come into classes and bestow a song on whatever boys or girls were the recipients. I never got one. Once I had kids, I refused to buy the store bought ones. My kids had to make their valentines. It was a fun activity and all their friends got hand made valentines. My daughter has continued the tradition with her kids.

  14. Valentine's Day was unknown in Germany during my childhood. it still means (almost) nothing to me. Beloved and I have given each other cards but I've never had one from anyone else but my daughter,

    I suppose you need to be part of the whole feel of the day for it to matter. anything 'verboten' would have been most attractive, I can certainly see that. And children do so desperately want to 'fit in'.

  15. Excluding the years we were living overseas, we mostly made valentines every year for school where there's now a rule that if you give one, you have to give to everyone. Keeps kids from feeling they've been voted against I think. Anyway, this year, younger-kiddo said she didn't want to make them ("it's just a bunch of gluing"). So I have no interest in purchasing anything to give to 4th graders who don't really care anyway (unless there's a candy attached).

    DH and I are really not attached to the social displays we're "supposed" to be attached to. Valentines Day passes without a glance.

    I have to say, though, from an aesthetic perspective, I like some of the old fashioned valentines and the idea of sending a "secret-Valentine" to cheer someone up is pretty sweet...


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