(Originally published Feb. 14, 2007).
I promise this blog entry will not be a gooey Valentine’s Day discourse written by a budding romance author. Far from it. I confess to being slightly jaded about Valentine’s Day.
In Scotland, my country of birth, Saint Valentine’s Day was reserved exclusively for lovers, who sent romantic tokens of esteem such as cards, candy, or flowers to the object of their affection, generally anonymously. Eight years old at the time, I gathered that the fun part was to try to figure out who the sender might have been.
Culture shock struck with a vengeance during my first Canadian Valentine’s Day extravaganza. Anticipation ran high throughout E. J. James Public School. With great fanfare, the principal announced all lessons would be canceled on the afternoon of the Big Day. My grade 4 teacher asked each pupil to contribute goodies to our class party (I lugged in a tin of home-made shortbread). Nobody thought to mention the obvious — Valentine’s Day cards.
Who knew children were supposed to hand out valentines to everybody, including siblings, parents, schoolmates, teachers, bus drivers, store keepers, neighbours, and even pets?
The afternoon of the party, the entire class loaded up on sugary treats, and our teacher asked all the children to place their cards in a basket. Apparently, the stores sold books of pop-out cards for the express purpose of handing out during the Valentine’s Day popularity contest. Cards that proclaimed things like, “Will you be my Valentine?” and “I love you.” Over the course of the afternoon, our teacher drew the cards at random, one by one, and read out the names of the lucky recipients. It soon became apparent that I, the Scottish newcomer, had not brought any cards to hand out.
Not a single one.
It also became painfully apparent that I had not made a whole bunch of new friends in my adopted country.
To this day, I am not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. On February 14, restaurants are over-crowded, wait-staff over-worked, and the cost of flowers more than doubles. In short, I avoid the second largest ‘Hallmark Holiday’ of the year.
I prefer to show my affection for those I love whenever the mood strikes.