Some Thoughts About Valentine’s Day
By James Donahue
I remember the teachers in the elementary school I attended making a big thing out
of Valentine’s Day. We were all 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.
The idea was exciting at first. My mother bought a package of low-cost little valentine
cards with various greetings of love and affection. I carefully went through the list of names, preparing cards for everyone.
When it worked the way it was intended, every child received an equal volume of love notes from all of the other children.
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 was 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 didn’t have any
love for them.
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. And that was when I stopped enjoying the celebration of
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 well-wishes in person.
The rising cost of buying these cards and then paying the high 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 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
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 that a new kitchen or perhaps a new car might be a way of expressing our love.
Some guys, however, get enamored enough
to write poems and send them to that special someone.
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.