Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Un-Valentine’s Day Post: The Valentine Gram

As young child, I loved Valentine’s Day!  My parents always made the day simple, yet meaningful.  I remember getting a red, heart-shaped box full of chocolate each year.  I loved the guessing game of what the filling would be.  Would it be  gooey, sweet caramel?  Or would it be that nasty, pasty “fruit” filling?  Oh, the simple joys of childhood!

 I also loved celebrating Valentine’s Day in elementary school.  You know, when you were required to give *everyone* a Valentine Day Card.  I felt special when I read all those cards . . . even with that strict stipulation.

Somewhere around junior high, my candy-filled, lovey-feeling holiday started to become tainted with the horrible anxiety of whether or not I would be the lucky recipient of a Valentine Gram.  

In case your school did not practice this torturous tradition (in which case, consider yourself lucky), let me explain.

During lunch, you could go buy a Valentine gram for any of your friends.  It was a simple note on something as plain as pink photocopying paper and was accompanied with something as simple as a red lollypop.  I would be remiss if I failed to mention the proceeds went to student council which I am sure paid for a school dance (another distressing ritual).

Even though these Valentine Grams were simple enough, the implications of receiving one were anything but simple and deeply embedded into the archaic popularity caste system.  If you received one, then you were confirmed as popular! beautiful! 

If you were like me, who could be best described as a public school version of Mary Katherine Gallagher, you were not on the receiving end of any Valentine Grams.  When the student council members hand-delivered the Valentine Grams, I remember waiting with bated breath that maybe, just maybe, I would finally be a recipient of the highly coveted piece of paper that would confirm that I was not socially awkward and shy.

I think it goes without saying that I never received a Valentine Gram.

And to my horror, I almost choked on this suppressed memory when Marie, my sweet little 6 1/2 year old girl, came home with a note announcing that Valentine Grams were available for sale.  She innocently asked me if she could buy one.  In my head, I shouted, “NO!  ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!”

Instead, I calmly said something to the effect that she could, but it might hurt someone’s feelings if you accidentally  left them out.  She agreed and that was the end of the discussion.

I am kinda sorta outraged that someone at a decision/policy making level thought that this was a good idea for elementary school kids.  I am guessing this person is someone who received Valentine Grams her whole entire school career and failed to see how this could turn into a sea of tears  created by the hurt feelings of those who didn’t get a special and exclusive Valentine Gram.

It doesn’t seem that Marie is destined to be one of those who never ever receive a Valentine Gram as a little boy sent her one.  Which is fine, but I am going to hold out as long as possible (hopefully forever) against this popularity contest.

I mean, other than that period of my life, I pretty much have been on good terms with Valentine’s Day.  But those devastating feelings of being uncool and left out don’t die easily.

Do you have any jaded and hurtful Valentine’s day memories? 


Lily Pad Mama said...

For Sweetest Day & Valentine's Day, our school sold Roses. I never got one. 'Nough said.

Erin Janda Rawlings said...

I hear ya! I feel like junior high and high school years are full of rejection without the schools inadvertently promoting it, too.