Valentine’s Day is laden with stereotypes and social pressure. “F—ing Valentine’s Day,” grumbled John this afternoon after we came back from working in the rain. Like me, he’s single and went off through the slush to his solo dwelling. No red roses or chocolate for us, no dinner dates or candlelight. Romance, phooey! How did we get to this place? St. Valentine was an early Christian priest who got in trouble for performing forbidden marriages to soldiers in the Roman army. The empire wanted unmarried fighters. While in prison, Valentine healed the sight of the jailer’s blind daughter. He wrote letters to friends that he signed “from your Valentine”. So the story goes. I would like the believe the Valentine story is about a kind of love that is not intensely focused on one person, but spreads it around. It’s about celebrating connection and friendship and special relationships. The first valentine I ever made was for my mom, one of those pink construction paper hearts with the white doily and flower stickers. When I think about it, everybody’s first love is Mother.
I made a valentine for my mom again this year and mailed it to her. I mailed little cards to my siblings and nieces and friends. I took a handful to work this morning and passed them out to my favorite colleagues. Hours passed in the studio this week while I listened to music, cut and glued paper, worked out designs in pencil, painted with watercolors then scanned into Photoshop and printed. The best part is coming up with new ideas that are not complete cliches. And mixing bright colors on the palette while snow falls outside. Valentines remind me that winter may be monochrome, but spring is approaching and soon there will be more color and life in the world.
So phooey to the narrow definition of romance, but yes
to an open heart and healing and love.