Valentine's Day brings back sweet memories of elementary school, where my longing for a Valentine began. My Mom would take me to the local Walgreens to pick out my favorite box of valentine cards that I could prepare to take the next day. My teachers would have us spend time preparing our "Valentine mailbox" that consisted of some white lunch bag decorated with stickers and Picasso-like artwork, or more advanced receptacles made with red and white construction paper. My Mom would usually send cupcakes or some other delectable red treat to share with all my little friends. And, she would make my favorite cake for dessert that evening - a heart-shaped red velvet cake. Dad always got a box of candy for his girls. Talk about your sugar shock.
I loved bringing my valentine mailbox home and reading all my valentines over and over. And, those special Valentines from those special guys I'd hoped I'd receive. I'd flip over the "Be Mine" card to see if he signed something more than just "John" or "Greg" and my heart would flutter if there was more to the Valentine than just a signature. It never failed, I'd always get one from Kelly...the guy who gave me a ring in second grade and wanted to marry me. He was an amateur magician and I was his assistant. He didn't do a thing for me in elementary school and I have no idea where he is today, but as one of my elementary school teachers told me after high school graduation, "You should have hung on to those boys from elementary school...they've grown up to be quite nice young men." Let that be a lesson, young ladies. Icky boys do turn out to be much better all grown up...I know "John" and "Greg" did.
But even though I'll not have a Valentine mailbox hanging on the door of my office, or maybe even receive any in my real mailbox, a timeless part of Valentine's Day lives on - the Necco Conversation Hearts. I love these things! Sugar seems to be a theme of Valentine's Day....a term of endearment and a way to overdose on this celebration of sweeties. The messages on these have evolved through the years, including "E-mail me" and "Fax Me." As a little girl, you'd save those "Lover Boy" hearts for that cute guy that would ask you to share your box.
This year, the Necco company is partnering with the Massachusetss Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and introducing heart messages like "Top Dog", "Love Bird, "My Pet", "Puppy Love", "Cool Cat", and "Go Fish." These candies have been produced since 1866 and are definitely a mainstay of Valentine's Day as much as those heart-shaped chocolate boxes.
Hmm, I wonder if there will be a heart that says "I heart Barbaro"......