Gee, I never realized how many “lasts” happen when it’s the last year of elementary school for the youngest child in the family. I already posted about the “last” parent preview film for Human Growth and Development. Lately it’s hit me that coming up is the last Science Fair (Yippeeee!!) and the last class Valentine’s Day party.
Amazing…over a decade of buying valentines for my kids to stuff in their classmates’ “valentine mailboxes”. Somehow it all seems a little pointless compared to when I was a kid. I remember going over every valentine later in the day…they came in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes people made theirs, sometimes they bought them, but kids carefully picked out which ones they wanted to send to which friends, depending on the verse. We girls would be thrilled if we got one with an especially nice verse from a boy (I once got one that said, “Valentine, it may be cold outside, but inside my heart is warm” …I stuck it in my diary and cherished it for at least a year…) Sometimes candy was taped to the valentines. It was a fun day—I felt sorry for the Jehovah’s Witness kids whose parents would pick them up and make them miss the party…
Fast forward to today, when there’s not much to valentines anymore. Literally. For those of you who may not know, most kid valentines now are about 2” x 2” (when opened!), and usually decorated with something from pop culture, like Buzz Lightyear or Hannah Montana, with barely enough room for even the words Happy Valentine’s Day. They almost seem like miniature ads. I call them “valen-tinies”. We’re all expected to go out and buy a box, have our child sign each one on what little space is left, and take them to school on the big day. By the time they get home from school toting a sack of the valentinies they’ve received, all they care about is eating whatever candy is left, and the valentinies are all thrown away. Seems like a ridiculous waste of money, to me. And gas, and time, if you think about the parents who have to drive to a 24-hour drugstore to buy a box of whatever’s left, the night before the party… (been there, done that! )
I used to try hard to help my child give something a little more memorable when my older daughter was in elementary school. One year I found inexpensive, pink and red flat heart-shaped “fun foam” goggles that fit nicely in an envelope. When she got into upper elementary, we started a tradition of making music CDs for everyone in her class, with 4-5 of her favorite songs to share, complete with custom-made, heart-themed CD labels. (Now that’s something people kept…well, most did…)
With Emmie, I was tapped out of new ideas, so she languished in the world of valentinies until last year, when we saw actress Julianne Moore on a TV talk show promoting Save the Children valentines, a set of valentines designed by children. They were pricier than the box of tinies (a box of 24 cost $25), but the money went toward a good cause: fighting childhood poverty around the world. Emmie loved the idea and we ordered a set.
I’d forgotten all about it until this year, when we got a catalog in the mail showing valentines designed by children at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. A box of 32 is only $5, and they are precious. I just checked online, and Save the Children is still offering a set of Valentines, too, this year including cards designed by children and celebrities including Jordin Sparks and Corbin Bleu. We haven’t decided which we’ll choose, but we’re definitely going to pick one of them, and we’re going to have to put our order in ASAP in order for them to arrive by the big day.
So, here’s hoping my readers with young children might also like to choose this unique way to share some love at the class Valentines Day parties. Here are the links: