Monday, February 13, 2017

Lessons from a Valentine Box

I feel a little like a Valentine's slacker. Last year, Kinley and Brooke were here at the farm shortly before Valentine's Day, and Kinley needed a Valentine box for school. I spent some time perusing the internet for ideas and finally settled on helping her construct a kitty box.
I declared success when one of her friends told her that she liked her "kitty." I'm not known for my crafting ability, so it was a proud Grandma moment when Jill reported the conversation!

A few weeks ago, I had the girls for the week, and I decided I'd take "Valentine's box" off Jill's already full "to-do" list. But I went an easier route this time. I bought a bunch of foam stickers at Hobby Lobby and let the girls peel and stick to their hearts' content on hot pink boxes I also took off the shelf at the craft store. (We also used the foam stickers to decorate foam frames.)
They both had a great time arranging the stickers on their boxes. The glittery stickers were Kinley's favorite. (I'm sure Jill and Eric found glitter on and under their kitchen table for days afterward, and Eric is not a lover of glitter.)
But mission accomplished: They were happy to show them off to Mommy and Daddy. (Jill had to do the hard part and supervise the painstaking writing of classmates' names this weekend. I would have done it, but they didn't have the Valentines or the classmate list at the time.)
Just like the "olden days," kids are supposed to give a Valentine to each member of their class.

At tiny Byers Grade School - my alma mater - Valentine's Day provided a lesson in how we'd all like to be treated: We had to give a Valentine to each classmate. No leaving out any pesky boy who teased me about my red tights.
(I'm second from the left, and it appears I'm wearing the red tights!)

Before Valentine's Day, we carefully cut out pink and red paper hearts and used our Elmer's Glue bottles to adhere them to shoeboxes. Mrs. Bond cut a slot in the top of the lid to make a Valentine's mailbox, which we perched on our desks. Other years, the teacher might give us a white paper sack, and we'd liberally decorate with crayon hearts and cutout cupids. We'd hang them with a piece of tape from the edge of our desks and wait anxiously for holiday greetings from our classmates. If we were lucky, someone might include a heart-shaped sucker along with the holiday card.

My Mom let each of us choose our box of Valentines from the store. I'm sure I very deliberately considered my options in an effort to choose just the right box. I also contemplated which Valentine to give to each classmate. That pesky boy needed a generic greeting, and I wanted to give just the right one to each of my female friends.

Each Valentine's Day, Jill and Brent chose their box of cards, too. A few are still in a box in the cabinet, and I use some each year for this and that. It's fun to look back and think about the choices they made at the time - a football theme for Brent or Barbies for Jill.  We had the same rule at our house. Every class member had to get a Valentine - no matter what.

And wouldn't the world be a better place if we treated each other with a little unconditional friendship? And not only on Valentine's Day, but every day.

Maybe Valentine's Day would be a good day to dust off the New York Times bestselling book from 20-some years ago, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

In it, author Robert Fulghum explains how the world would be a better place if adults adhered to the same basic rules as kindergarten-aged children, like sharing and being kind to one another.

For the record, I didn't go to kindergarten. It wasn't an option at Byers Grade School. But the lessons are still valid - and maybe even more so in this contentious world. 
As Robert Fulghum would say:
  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Be aware of wonder.
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.


  1. So true!
    Is the Valentine Box a tradition of your state or generally over the US.
    I know of nothing like it here. Definitely not in school.

    1. True confessions: I've only lived in Kansas, so I guess I can't answer it definitively. But I believe that Valentine boxes are a mainstay across the U.S. My daughter will leave work a little early today so that she can go to her daughters' Valentine parties at their day care/preschool.