Those who know me know that I despise Valentine’s Day. It’s partly because it’s never been a happily memorable holiday for me and partly because I’m highly pragmatic and figure if you’re not loving on the people who matter on a daily basis then one day isn’t going to help. Despite my antipathy towards this pseudo-holiday, though, my sons enjoy it. Or at least they enjoy the candy aspect. So every year I go out and buy candy for their classmates and make Valentine’s Day cards for the boys to write and hand out.
Over the weekend, the boys and I were discussing the Valentines they were going to give their friends.
“I don’t really want to write any out,” said Luke, hoping to avoid any extra work that even remotely felt like a homework chore.
“Even though it’s a pain to do, you might feel a bit awkward if everyone else in the class ends up handing them out and you don’t, Luke,” I nudged.
“Okay, okay,” he acquiesced. “I’ll do it.” There’s the male Valentine spirit I am used to…hands tied, forced to participate.
“There ya go,” I replied. “What about you, Joe? What are you thinking?” I asked.
“Oh…I want to hand them out. I have a plan.”
Now, Luke often has a plan. Luke is dreamer and a schemer. Joe? Not so much. He’s as straight forward and up front as you can get. I was curious. I raised an eyebrow at him.
“A plan, huh? What kind of plan?” I teased.
“I am going to write To and From on all the Valentines except one,” he said quite matter-of-factly.
“Oh…I see. And the one that’s the exception, would that one use a different word than From?”
“Yes,” he answered.
I knew exactly where this was going. Joe has had a small crush on a girl in his class all year. He can’t seem to decide on a best friend, but the boy knows a cute girl when he sees one.
“That’s pretty bold, Joe,” I said. “Women like a grand gesture.”
“It’s not a grand gesture. She’ll only figure it out if she sees that I didn’t write Love on anyone else’s card,” he said shyly.
“Yes. But you’re putting yourself out there, Joe. That’s brave and not at all easy to do. I’m proud of you.”
It was probably because I told him I liked his plan and was proud of him that he told me the very next day that he was not going to go through with it. It was too risky. I told him understood. I do. I didn’t tell my middle school crush I had a crush on him until we were 38 and at our 20-year high school reunion. Only then did inebriated and emboldened me take the time to seek him out and tell him that I regularly used to ride my bike by his house. I don’t know what I expected from my admission, but having him look at me as if he might be in need of a restraining order in the near future wasn’t my best case scenario. Admitting your feelings comes with a risk no matter how old you are. It never gets easier, but the younger you start the better off you will be.
Tonight I called the boys up to write out the cards so I could attach the treats and get them ready for dispersal at class. I left Joe with his class list and went on to other things. When I returned later and was slapping lollipops on the handmade, handwritten notes, I noticed that one of the notes did not have the customary From sign-off. One of them was clearly and neatly signed Love, Joe. It made my heart smile.
I still don’t like Valentine’s Day. I don’t. It’s hokey, commercial, and highly overrated. But this year I almost have reason to celebrate and it’s because of a card that wasn’t even written to me.