Tuesday, February 12, 2008

St. Valentine's Day

Here I am again, conjuring memories of love found and love lost using Miriam's family history blogging/journaling prompt over at AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Appropriate for the upcoming holiday, she asks us about St. Valentine's Day.

What is the first Valentine's Day that you remember? How old were you or what grade were you in?

I really don't remember much about Valentine's Day in school. From what I do remember I didn't like: it was too much of a "popularity contest" what with the box to drop valentine cards up front. Perhaps, and I hope, it is different. I would think schools would use the opportunity to stress and teach love as a concept: the love of neighbor, the love of colleague, the love of co-student and confonting the problem of bullying. I think too much time is spent these days equating love with sex.

Did you have celebrations at school? What were they like? Were there games and refreshments?

I went to Catholic grade school for the first three years, so we learned more about St. Valentine. I really don't remember any celebrations except perhaps a mid-winter dance in high school on a Friday evening.

Did you make some sort of individualized Valentine "mailboxes" to hold the greetings you received? Or did the classroom have one big box? How were they (or it) created and decorated?

The classroom had one large box which the teacher usually decorated.

Did you buy or make Valentine cards? Did you include goodies such as lollipops, candy message hearts, or Hershey kisses?

Mom usually bought the box set of little cards that you'd put in envelopes and then place in the big box.

Do you remember the first boy or girl you had a crush on in school? Did you have the nerve to send him or her a Valentine? If so, what was their reaction/response?

Sort of. In Catholic school I was in the first grade and I had a crush on a very pretty Italian girl. Of course I was a wee boy of six at the time.

Did your crush send you a Valentine?

I don't remember - I actually think that the nuns frowned upon giving Valentines. They frowned upon most things.

How did you feel about Valentine's Day as a child? Was it fun and exciting, or disappointing and sad? Or were you simply bored with it all?

Not disappointed as much as bored and not realizing the big deal. As a teenager I was struggling with my sexual identity so it was difficult to address that let alone sending a Valentine.

As you got older, did you attend any Valentine's Day dances? Tell about your experiences!

Well during my ballroom dancing days, my dance partner Nancy and I would usually go to a Saturday night dance at the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. A great setup: no alcohol, no smoking, and pleasant, civil people who respected the ground rules. We both learned quite a bit from the older, more experienced dancers. And I, for some reason, had a flock of older women always asking me for dances. Perhaps it was my Billy Idol/peroxide hair.

What is the nicest card or gift you have ever received for Valentine's Day? Who sent it to you?

I always receive great cards from my partner. I can't say that any one is better than the other - but I've saved them all, as well as birthday and anniversary cards.

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day now?

I usually make a batch of gingerbread cookies - large hearts decorated with pink frosting. Then I have a sheet of "love quotes" that I print out. I cut them into strips with scrapbooking scissors and place them in the large cellophane corsage bags with the cookies. I call them Love Fortunes.

Do you remember hearing how your parents or grandparents celebrated Valentine's Day?

Not really - my family was never very open with affection including husband to wife, wife to husband, etc. If I ever saw my parents or great-grandparents hold hands it was something to stop and note. In a way that's kind of sad. I would rather note when they didn't hold hands or kiss each other.

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