The morning is cold, only 30˚. The sky is still cloudy, and a wind comes and goes. A dusting of snow fell sometime last night, after midnight. The back stairs are covered but not the front. I’ll throw out some de-icer so Henry won’t slip.
I remember Valentine’s day when I was a kid. In school, we decorated shoe boxes and transformed them into valentine boxes mostly with glue and construction paper. My mother and I shopped for valentine’s uptown at Woolworth’s in the square. My mother let me pick my own Valentines. They came in a single package, and all of them were colorful. Most of them had cherubic girls and boys on the front or cute little animals. They often had catchy little sentiments. I still have some. One is a picture of a boy and girl with strings and says “Stop stringing me along and be my valentine.” A puppy exclaimed, “Dog-Gone it. Be my valentine.” To an adult’s eye they must have seemed corny, but for me, they were perfect. The backs of them were white. I wrote my name in pencil, and it went in an angle down the back so I could write my whole name, Kathleen. The night before Valentine’s Day I’d sit at the kitchen table and write out my valentines. I’d put each in a small white envelope and write my classmates’ names on the front. I always had a valentine for each classmate.
We had to bring a party food to school on Valentine’s Day. Chocolate chip cookies were my Treat of choice. We’d put the treats on the nun’s desk. They were a distraction all morning. We were in no mood to learn. We were too excited. After lunch the nun had us clear our desk tops of books and bring out our valentines and our boxes. She had us go row row by row to put the envelopes in our classmates’ boxes. I remember sitting there and hoping that valentines would be put into my box. Some of my classmates put envelopes in every box but a couple didn’t. If I got skipped, I’d pretend I didn’t care, but I was always a little hurt. After the valentines were given out, it was time to party. We’d go row by row to the front of the room where we’d choose our treats. I always took a couple of cookies. We’d then sit at our desks chatting, eating our treats and opening our valentines.
I remember walking home holding my valentine box, my treasure chest. I’d sit at the kitchen table and go through the valentines again. I’d show my mother every one then put them back into the box. I’d go through them a few more times then put the box under my bed where it would be safe.