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Love Foe All
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Some Thoughts About Valentine’s Day
 
By James Donahue
 
I remember the teachers in the elementary school I attended made a big thing out of Valentine’s Day. We were given a list of the names of all of the children in our class and instructed to go home and prepare valentine cards for everyone.

While the teachers meant well, the annual practice of passing valentines to our classmates eventually brought out the cruelty that gangs of children can generate.
 
When the Valentine's Day card passing worked the way it was intended, every child received an equal volume of love notes from all of the other children. 
 
But as we passed from grade to grade, and the personalities of various students became known, we stopped following the rules. Some children were “accidentally” missed when we wrote out the cards. The less popular students sometimes didn’t receive many, if any cards at all. I began to dislike Valentine’s Day because it became a time of subtle bullying. It became a reverse form of expressing love for those around us. The students collectively used their refusal to send valentine cards to certain students as a way of letting them know that they were misfits and thus separated from the herd.
 
I remember a distinct feeling of sadness when I saw what was happening. I found myself sensing the extreme disappointment expressed by the few that received almost no valentines. I began to fear that one year, I would be the subject of this same brutal attack by my classmates. Consequently I stopped enjoying the celebration of Valentine’s Day.
 
That experience may have been the beginning of my lifelong dislike of all card sharing. I determined that even the sending of birthday, Christmas, Easter and even get-well cards was always a poor substitute for expressing  sincere well-wishes in person. 
 
The rising cost of buying these cards and the cost of postage has only supported my disdain for card mailings.
 
After years of being married to the same wonderful woman, and experiencing our love for our children, who are grown and now live in all corners of the United States, the concept of expressing our love for one another as often as possible has become even more important. We still don’t buy cards, but we have been known to draw a heart on a piece of plain white paper and scribble messages of love when sending mail. We do it at any time of the year. To heck with waiting for Valentine’s Day to roll around.

When we think about it, however, the whole concept of Valentine’s Day is a nice one. It never hurts for us to express our love for one another. And valentines are exactly that. They are an expression of love.
 
But all of the holidays, including Valentine’s Day, have become so commercialized that the fun has been stripped. Men now are expected to buy flowers for their wives or girlfriends. We see television advertisements suggesting materialistic gifts like jewelry, perfume, new clothes, or perhaps even a new car might be the correct way of expressing our love. 
 
Some guys get enamored enough to write poems and send them to that special someone. Not all of us are clever enough to write a poem that is worthy of being taken seriously.
 
Valentine’s Day had its origins almost 2,000 years ago, during the time of the Roman Empire. The story was that St. Valentine, a Roman who died because he refused to give up Christianity, left a farewell note to the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend. He signed it “From Your Valentine.” He reportedly died on February 14, 269 A.D.
 
The Roman Catholic Church later declared Valentine the patron saint of lovers. 
 
People in the United States didn’t start observing Valentine’s Day until sometime in the 1800s. The commercialization of the "holiday" quickly followed, first with the passing of cards, then flowers. It has since become so ridiculous that the sentiment of the expression of our love and admiration for the people in our lives has faded into obscurity. Most of us would prefer to forget the holiday altogether.