Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.

--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Forget the Romance--Gimme a School Party!

Elementary school Valentine's Day party, 1950's



There are a lot of holidays that go by pretty much ignored in my household, or at least, ignored now that the kids have grown up. Valentine's Day is one of those. I couldn't care less about cheesy sentiment or an obligatory gift of cellophane wrapped roses. Chocolates, of course, are always welcome, but then that goes without saying. Any day of the year, I welcome chocolate.

But growing up as a Baby Boomer, I do hold fond memories of the annual school Valentine's Day party. With what anticipation we kids awaited it--a lovely treat that brightened up the tail end of winter, and promised us, as well, a shortened day of schoolwork as lessons ended early for the festivities. 

I don't know what kids do now for school holidays. I think they're rather tepid affairs compared with the fun we had--after all, we all those lovely unsafe games and toys to enjoy, and refreshments were homemade because no one gave a rip about the possibilities of food poisoning or worried about eating gluten-free. It was a big deal to be designated to bring cupcakes or cookies from home for the party. There was no pre-packaged anything and not a nutritionist in sight!

Best of all was the unveiling of the Valentine boxes, carefully decorated and brought from home on the day of the party, and the ensuing contest for winners. Most beautiful box, most creative box, etc. I don't remember ever winning one of these honors, but it was fun to try every year. 

Most of us made our "mailboxes", using shoe boxes, construction paper, and glitter. A few kids had help from artsy moms and they had fancier boxes, but for the most part they were pretty simple affairs, made with fumbling fingers, pots of paste or bottles of mucillage, and great enthusiasm.



The valentines shared were the standard cheap kids' cards with bright graphics and lots of hokey puns, like these:







Notice we weren't politically correct in those days, nor socially sensitive. Ah, well.

Fifth grade was the last of the parties I remember. That year I decided to forego the standard printed cards and had my mom buy me a package of heart-shaped paper doilies and a pen with red ink, Then I copied out silly verses from a magazine article I had--was it Calling All Girls, maybe? Not sure. I've forgotten all of the rhymes but one, which I gave to a red-haired boy named Carl on whom I had a mild crush:

The man of my dreams 
is handsome and strong
But I'll stick with you
'til he comes along.

I doubt if Carl was impressed with my efforts, but my teacher, Mrs. Fisher, certainly was.

Anyway, I loved Valentine's Day as a kid. And when I homeschooled my own four kids, one of the few things I felt sad about their missing out on was the fun of the school Valentine's Day party. So every year I set out to make up for the deficiency.

The unexpected thing was, my kids couldn't have cared less. Don't get me wrong--they liked receiving the annual treat of a little heart-shaped box of cheap chocolates. They are, after all, chips off the old block in that respect.

But crafting pretty cardboard Valentine mailboxes or fashioning their own cards for members of the family or friends was something that interested them not an iota. They humored me somewhat but it was clear that I was the one who was jazzed about the activity; for them it was just some pointless art project they endured for my sake.

The most famous example of that indifference has remained a family joke to this day. I was trying to encourage the kids to come up with their own sentiments to write on their homemade cards. Nobody was particularly enthused. I don't think they could see the point. But I urged them, suggesting ideas and finally by reciting the old time-worn example, 

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

Then I left them to it.

A half hour later I went to examine the results. I think I finally knew it was a lost cause when I read my oldest son's card to his sister. In all seriousness, he had written:

Meat is red
And I like you.

Well, I guess it could have been worse!

Here are some other vintage Valentine "fails" I thought you might enjoy.

This one obviously slipped past the censors.


Definitely the kind of card that would have you phoning the cops to report a potential death threat nowadays.

Something the Texas chain saw murderer might have sent in his youthful ardor.

Apparently nothing says "I love  you" like finding a corpse in your freezer.

Uh.....  Never mind.

I said, "Never mind!"

A sinister-looking clown. Now THAT'S gonna win her!

What planet is this ad from?















2 comments :

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  2. I remember the parties in school and they WERE fun! Of all of the cards we received for "holidays", Valentine's Day cards were always the best. We have amassed a fairly decent collection of vintage Valentine's Day cards over the years. We loved seeing the ones you posted above! (Rob)

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