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The Valentine Box

I saw the other day that someone tweeted about their child making a 'Valentine box' for school. I was rather surprised, thinking this tradition of giving Valentines to classmates had gone the way of the Dodo bird, but apparently the practice persists. I have no problem with that. I loved Valentine's Day when I was a kid. From taking home that yummy-smelling ditto-sheet of names with which to match up the drugstore-bought packet of little cards to gobbling cupcakes and candy hearts...well, what grade-school kid wouldn't dig this holiday? But for me, one of the best thing about exchanging Valentines at school was knowing that I had the most awesome Valentine box ever in the whole history of Valentine boxes.

 Valentine box

I don't even recall trying to make my own box for that February 14th in Mrs. Cron's grade two at Helen Minard Elementary school. I just knew I had to have one, and when the day came, there is was. Where did it come from? My Dad.
Nothing says "be mine" like a bulb in a bowtie.My Dad is an artistic creator. He worked for over thirty years as a draftsman at Ingersoll Rand, and when it comes to making something, he doesn't know the word "halfway". He drew and painted wonderful pictures, designed tools, rebuilt old player pianos and pipe organs, and built houses that stand solid to this day and will continue to do so for decades to come. And he made me this beautiful Valentine box. I don't know what it originally held, but it's covered over with white contact paper, with velvet hearts glued on it and hand-printed slogans and designs covering the rest. "Attention to detail" is putting it mildly. It shone like a jewel on my little school desk, and I used it every year up until grade seven, when high school, puberty, peer pressure and other grown-up things took over school life and all the fun of cupcakes, candy hearts, and Valentine boxes became mere memories.
Why yes, I wood. Wooden shoe?The box was put away in my mom's cedar chest, to be re-discovered every few years when I went digging around in places I probably shouldn't have been. It holds many mementos now, including a batch of Valentine cards from my grade two classmates. I still remember each and every one of them, from the terribly punned "Wooden shoe be mine" card given to me by David Birdsall, to the freaky anthropomorphic light bulb card from Susan DeKay. I wonder if anyone else saved their cards, or at least their boxes? Would I have been so careful to do so if it had just been a crummy old shoebox with a slit cut in it? Probably not.
I don't even celebrate Valentine's Day any more. I know that sounds awful, but when my husband and I got married, we made a decision that we would let this Hallmark-hyped holiday pass by and focus on other celebrations, such as our soon-following wedding anniversary. But seeing my pretty little Valentine box again, maybe it's time to break out the hearts-n-flowers and bad puns and…well, we'll leave anthropomorphic lighting fixtures for bad dreams. But this February 14th, I think I'll leave the Valentine box out on my desk. We'll see what treasures it soon holds.
Happy Valentine's Day!