Past valentines still warm the heart
I hope you all got a valentine -- whether it was flowers and chocolates, or "bling" (I'm so hip, I actually think I know what that means now after a friend of mine recently referred to her stunning engagement ring as "bling") or a hand-made valentine from one of your children.
Paul Thevarajoo made a good point in last week's column that it should not be compulsory to once a year declare your love for your spouse or loved ones, you can do that any day of the year. However, just in case you're not one of those souls who do that and actually find yourself as one of the last-minute shoppers the day before Valentine's frantically looking for a card that's appropriate amidst all of the leftovers, then you're among those who need such a reminder.
I heard a story/myth on the radio before Valentine's Day that explained its origin. It seems there was a particular priest in third-century Rome whose name was Valentine who continued to marry lovers even though the Emperor Claudius II declared marriages could not be performed since he thought single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine, because of his defiance of the emperor, found himself in jail sentenced to die for his crimes. There, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter and left her a letter declaring his love signed, "Valentine."
Not the prettiest story, but there you have one of the myths.
Moving on...Recently while rummaging through my memorabilia I am still sorting, I came across several reminders of past Valentine's Days that I just can't bring myself to give up.
The first was a small calendar with the school picture of my oldest son pasted on a round silver piece of cardboard and adorned with hearts and flowers with a message "To Mom." Next, I find a white plastic plate with a small figure drawn in permanent marker, holding a large bouquet of colorful balloons with the inscription "Be Happy." Further into the box is a cylindrical "Pringles" can adorned with red construction paper and cut-out hearts that I'm sure came full of candy from my oldest daughter, and at the very bottom a homemade cookbook with a construction-paper cover filled with favorite children's recipes done under the supervision of teacher Ruth Hughs, I believe. There is also a valentine from my second son signed "To the best mom in the world from your old pal" (spelled pail). All of these are bittersweet reminders of how quickly childhood passes, especially when a card arrived in the mail this year from a grandchild with his name scrawled at the bottom of a valentine that proclaims that as a grandma "I am a star."
I know some day these gifts made with small hands will find their way into ruin at the bottom of someone else's memory box, but until then they will remain for me as precious valentines of an innocent time when love was a handmade gift after the chocolates and flowers had long since perished. So display that handmade valentine proudly on your refrigerator or elsewhere and enjoy briefly the smile of satisfaction and love on the face of your own child or grandchild.
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This week included President's Day, which honored George Washington, who supposedly never told a lie. This is timely since the subject of lying has been much in the news these days. The accused range from such prestigious circles as our present administration to the author of a thoroughly engrossing book promoted by the grand pooh-bah of book clubs, Oprah herself. If you were one of those who raced through the book "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey, then you are familiar with the fallout when the author admitted that what was sold as his memoir was a partial work of fiction.
Although the story of the author's recovery from alcohol and drugs was totally engrossing, it was jarring, to say the least, to find that at least 18 pages of the book were embellished with fiction.
Oprah, feeling hoodwinked and angry since she recommended the book without knowing of the fictional embellishment, took the author to task on her show where she proceeded to strip him of every last vestige of his image and dignity. A little harsh? Yeah, I'd say so. Some even went so far as to say she was a "bully." But whether it's Oprah's image or your own occasional dishonesty, the subject of lying remains.
Garrison Keillor recently wrote how all of us lie at times. He gave the example of a child in a school play. You would always tell a child that their performance was wonderful even though in reality it was certainly less than perfect.
We all bend the truth at times in order not to hurt, but another columnist reminds us that "lying matters."
Anna Quindlen, commenting on Frey's book states, "Truth is a rock: if you chip away at it enough, you wind up with gravel, then sand."
Happy are those who find words around truth when it is hurtful -- maybe that's what leads to a career as a diplomat or a member of the administration. Hmmmm.