Valentine’s Day the Old-Fashioned Way

On Valentine’s Day in fifth grade, we remember sitting at our desks anxiously awaiting the distribution of cards from a shoebox wrapped in red foil. We could count on getting valentines from our girlfriends. Maybe a handmade one with stickers and a doily. Maybe one with a Pixy Stix taped to the envelope. But, oh, the embarrassment if our pile of valentines looked skimpy.

We know a man who, decades later, is still grateful that his cousin Shelly was in his class, because that meant he could count on receiving at least one card.

In our teen years, we yearned to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend, not with our classmates. Wouldn’t it be nice to exchange gifts and write romantic notes to each other?

Happily, we fished our wish. We’ve each had a partner for 30-plus years of Valentine’s Days. So over the years, we’ve been there and done that. How can we make Valentine’s Day 2019 special? Should we drag our honey to the craft beer brewery for the organic, foraged farm-to-table food pairings? Do we want to get bundled up with heavy coats, hats and gloves and go ice skating? Force him to go to the local “paint and sip” storefront so we can create a masterpiece together?

What we’d really like to do is snuggle up together on the sofa with Netflix and a good bottle of wine and a big heart filled with chocolate.

While we’re long past the days of exchanging valentines, we still appreciate snail-mail cards from our husbands. That’s because we’re old. We still use the U.S. Postal Service. A few weeks ago, when we went to the drugstore to buy a card, we glanced down the aisle and noticed that every single person browsing the card racks was a senior citizen. But if only old fogies send paper cards, what do the young people do on Valentine’s Day . . . besides the obvious?


They send e-cards. We’re tempted; we especially like the e-greeting with the doggie gondolier singing “That’s Amore.” But an e-card would arrive on our beloved’s computer screen alongside work emails and Groupon offers for a buy-one-get-one-free car wash.

Who wants their message of true love sandwiched between a “reminder about the meeting Thursday” and “did you finish the contract for Steven?” And to our generation e-cards just seem too easy. Too disposable. You can’t put them in a drawer to look at later and remind yourself how much you’re loved.

If we send an e-card, it would be even harder to ignore our mothers’ voices, which we hear in our heads: “You couldn’t go to the store and buy a $3.99 card? You don’t know how to put a stamp on it and mail it?”

We could post our romantic sentiments on Facebook, but then our 284 “friends” would know that our husbands’ nicknames are Snookums and Snuggle Bunny. Our kids would cringe and unfriend us. And we’d never get rid of the targeted ads for Snuggie blankets and rabbit hutches.

A few years ago, the venerable candy maker Necco started printing two new phrases on its ubiquitous candy conversation hearts: “Tweet me” and “Text me.” But if we’ve learned anything from the world’s most infamous tweeter-in-chief, it’s that Twitter is not the ideal way to communicate. Serious feelings, important thoughts and tender emotions do not lend themselves to limited character counts and unfortunate autocorrects. “I glove you!”

After considering the alternatives, we’re sticking with the tried and true – old-fashioned paper greeting cards – even though they require a little more effort. We will stand in that aisle with the seniors, reading and rejecting cards until we find the one that says it just right. We’ve always been partial to the ones with cartoon animal couples – the bunnies eating dinner, the squirrels driving a car.

Then we’ll each whip up a heart-shaped chocolate cake and present the card to the guy we’ve been married to for decades. We’d both be happy to see him bring home flowers. And we are hoping our hubbies bring us one of those big hearts filled with chocolate. So we don’t have to buy it for ourselves.

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