Be My Grade School Valentine


It is an odd holiday that comes at an odd time. Valentine’s Day. For many it is too commercial, too painful, or even too cloyingly sweet or teen romance to even contemplate. Or, on a lighter note, it is something to forget about until the last minute and then get in trouble because you forgot in the first place. Above all, it can be a problem when you live solo or even in pairs. It can lead to all kinds of memories, evaluations, and of course, recriminations.


But why? It seems like most everyone I talk reacts negatively to Valentine’s Day. Even those who are fully, completely, and hopelessly in love roll their eyes and say “Thanks for reminding me…” Negativity seems to swarm around Valentines Day like fruit flies. In fact, most people would prefer fruit flies to thinking about Valentines Day. It seems that only grade school kids like Valentine’s Day.

Kids and Saint Valentine

The reason why grade schoolers like the holiday is because they actually get it right. They do what Saint Valentine did. Legend holds

that Saint Valentine was imprisoned and, ultimately, sentenced to death for his beliefs. All of his fellow prisoners were in the same

Kids Valentines.  Obviously this piece was written and the photographed by a boy....
Kids Valentines. Obviously this piece was written and photographed by a boy….

pickle. So, having charmed one of the prison guards, he acquired pen and paper and wrote to an inmate letters of uplift, faith, hope, and above all friendship. Those simple missives sustained both him and the recipient during their harsh prison stay. The legend continues that he signed his letters, “Your Valentine….”

Kids still do this. They don’t worry so much about romance and concentrate on friendship and connection. And kids do it with pizazz. In fact there is an shocking and playful selection of kids valentines. I am, as always, naturally partial to superheroes and Star

Stickers, foam punch outs, foil stuff...what's not to like
Stickers, foam punch outs, foil stuff…what’s not to like

Wars. Plus grade schoolers are fellow inmates, stuck in school in bad weather with, to their young minds, no pardon or reprieve in sight. So why not take a break and drop a few cards in shoe boxes decorated with construction paper? The alternative is conjugating verbs and adding fractions.

Lessons from Kids

Speaking of Star Wars, in turns out that there is a pretty wide selection of playful adult valentines as well. So, all the seriousness can be bled away from the day pretty quickly. With kids in the house

Even Darth Vader likes Valentines
Even Darth Vader likes Valentines

it is just plain easy to remove the pressure, the seriousness, and more to the point , the over emphasis on LOVE with the holiday. We can relish in the simple act of cutting out a heart from a folded piece of paper or choking down a chalky piece of candy that says “Be Mine.”

For those of us living in households without children we still need that playfulness. There is an argument that we need to redouble our efforts when it comes to easing the mood and return to St. Valentine’s goal of hope and friendship. And I am not just talking about those who are single or divorced. Couples can fall into the trap of being over focused, over sensitive, and of course, “over” the holiday in general.

Be a Grade School Valentine

So this Valentine’s Day I can not recommend highly enough easing up. If you are single you are not alone. Call a friend and just say hello. Be their grade school Valentine. Or call a family member. Or just

Lots of ways to get candy to a friend or sweetheart
Lots of ways to get candy to a friend or sweetheart

smile at a stranger. For those of us who are paired up enjoy the day the way a fifth grader would. Be silly and be colorful and above all lower your expectations. Be like your were in grade school. After all, nobody expects to be someone’s permanent Valentine when you are eight.

Finally, eat something fun but have honey with it. It turns out that St. Valentine, besides his many responsibilities with couples in love, is also the patron saint of beekeepers. So have a piece of baklava or just a piece of toast with honey. And while you eat that you can ponder why beekeepers need a saint in the first place.

Your Valentine,

Chris Watson