Sunday, February 17, 2013

I dare you to remain cynical

Shira, sleep in the car, still clutching some of her Valentines. 
A few peg dolls for my Valentines. Inspired, as always by We Bloom Here.

Just a selection of Valentines made for us by Alyce.

Alyce's homemade cards for all her school friends.

I know Valentine's Day sparks anger and resentment among many. I get it, I really do. We don't need to spend a ton of money on cards, chocolates, toys, flowers, silly gifts, and the like, to let others know that we're sweet on them. We certainly don't need yet another reminder that our society privileges a certain kind of love. But at this point in my life I am surrounded by tiny people who adore Valentine's Day with such excitement and urgency that I refuse to stand in its way.

I know you don't need another blog telling you to make your life more difficult by making everything from scratch. You don't need to feel guilty (again) because you used store-bought vegetable stock in your soup. But if you'll allow this one simple suggestion: handmades for Valentine's can rock your world. There is nothing cynical about children slaving passionately over construction paper hearts and markers, tongues stuck out in deep concentration. And do you know what Alyce gave me for Valentine's day, in addition to no less than six homemade cards? A bracelet she found in her room. She loved giving it to me, and I loved receiving it.

In our house we make cards for every occasion. Is it a Tuesday? Make a card. Is our friend Kaylie coming over for lunch? Make her a card, too. Is it someone's birthday? Let's make ten. We keep a basket of the necessary tools on our table at all times (so that I'm not constantly fetching the scissors and glue at every turn) and we can make a card at a moment's notice. So a holiday devoted to extra card making? We're not going to turn that shit down.

Am I saying that store-bought cards are bad? Of course not. We love them! Alyce has a box of twenty-seven Valentine's Day cards from her school friends and most of those are from a store. She adores them (and sleeps with them in her bed), and we are grateful to receive well-wishes from a friend in any form. Please don't read this is a manifesto against The Store. But I am saying that if you are feeling awfully crabby and hopeless in the face of all the extra consumerism this week, stock up on some extra construction paper next year and stay away from the shops. Sit yourselves down and with some paper and glue (and some glitter if you're feeling especially brave), and make yourself a card.

And by all means, don't wait for Valentine's Day. Tuesday is coming up and if there's a better reason to make a card, I don't know it.
My little sister and brother making hearts, Vancouver-style (thanks, Kate).


  1. We made homemade ones this year, too, and after a few glasses of wine, it wasn't so bad :)! I got my kids to say a few kind words about each classmate, and I wrote their words down. The day after, I was one really gives a hoot if they're homemade or storebought, but then I got an email from a mom of a child in V's class. He got off the bus with joy, inspired by how much V's card "warmed his heart so much it felt like it was on fire!!" That made MY day...

    I agree on all counts. What always gets me about those who are cynical about V Day is that they have to be so damn vocal about it. I feel like's FINE if you don't like it or don't want to buy roses or chocolates. Just shut up and let the rest of us enjoy telling those we love that we love them, one more time! What's not to love about that? :)

    1. I love the idea of a glass (or glasses) of wine while valentining away. I also love the idea of writing down a few kind words about each friend. I think I'll try that next year.

  2. oh, peg dolls... bravo!!

    my older son brought home a big bag of valentines which he received from his classmates -- some store-bought and some hand-made. They were all great -- I love the hand-made ones, but there was one store-bought one with a goofy photo of kittens, and I have to admit, it was so silly that I was a bit crazy about it. but the best part -- the little chocolates attached to some of the valentines (we really enjoyed those!) plus the valentine pencils we sharpened up and so we could set to drawing...

    1. Does your son sleep with his bag of cards the way Alyce does?

  3. It was the first year my daughter needed to have valentine's made (her preschool "required" that we bring in 22!). I briefly considered running over to the Dollar Store, but instead, we found a cute card online which we printed off and glued onto construction paper. A then painstakingly signed each one :) It was fun!

    1. That sounds like a lot of work! But those signatures melt me every time!