Valentine's Memories

My brother Jim was born on Valentine’s Day 65 years ago. I still remember staring out the front window of our house on Charles Street at the snow and lights,wondering where my parents had gone. I was the firstborn, almost four, and my life was changing. Since then, Valentine’s Day in our family was always about Jim’s birthday.

We did exchange valentines at school. Secret valentines to our crushes and others to our friends. How many did you get? Were you as popular as me? Did you have any secret admirers? It was all about friendship and love and popularity. I didn’t mind the first two, but I hated competing with others for votes. It cheapened the sincerity of friendship for me.

In high school there were Valentine’s Day dances or sock hops. Were they the same as Sadie Hawkins Dances where the girls could ask the boys out? That was a big deal in the 1950s. You were supposed to wait for the boys to ask you. They had the responsibility of walking up to you in hall at school or phoning you to ask for a date. Girls were supposed to be passive and wait for a call. But that social rule was reversed for Sadie Hawkins, and girls could ask the boys. The pressure was excruciating; I may have screwed up my courage a few times to ask someone. Being rejected didn’t make it any easier, even if it made us more empathic.

In 1976 I got married on Valentine’s Day, so now the day is associated with the day my husband and I took our vows. It was a beautiful wedding at our home with all our friends and family. The room was filled with daffodils, love and laughter. When I look back, I remember my naïve hope that it would last; and it has. Not without bumps, sometimes big ones. The memories make Valentines’ Day a very special one for me.

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