I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, and yet I collect vintage valentines. It’s a weird dichotomy, I know. A few years ago, I inherited a bunch of old scrapbooks from my great aunt. She had amassed some beautiful cards, letters, and valentines throughout her long life and had the foresight to keep them neatly organized in a scrapbook. She didn’t set out to collect vintage things, but she was born in 1898 and it just so happens that the stuff you collect in the early part of your 89 years eventually becomes “vintage” shortly after you die. Funny how that works. But I love everything about those old valentines. I love their designs and colors, their fonts, even their inscriptions.
So, why do I have this “bad blood” with Valentine’s Day? I mean, I have been married for 13 years, I love my husband, I always get something nice from him every Valentine’s Day. What’s my problem?
1. The holiday is exclusive. One might say, well, Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day to express romantic love. Bullshit. People are throwing it in your face all day long, usually young couples or old ones who feel the need to validate their crumbling relationships through your uncomfortable discussion with them over top of the four dozen roses teetering on the edge of their desk. Yes, I see them. I can barely see YOU, but I see the flowers.
2. It makes your dating (or general relationship) life a living hell. Did you get (or give) wayyy to much stuff…or too little. Is it too early in our relationship to celebrate? What does it mean if we don’t celebrate? I mean, it’s just a mess.
3. I don’t like that there is a day to do what you should be doing all year, every day. Tell people that you love them or like them any day. With or without a conversation heart to help you out.
4. The onslaught of social media photos and broadcasts of gifts and sentiments is unbearable. For the record, I am really happy when people are in solid relationships, I am. In fact, I wish more people were in healthy, stable relationships. I probably even like the fact that you received special things today because I love you and you are my friend! I just feel that posting about all the things you got or how much you love someone is inconsiderate to so many others today. You should enjoy it. You really should. Bask in it, bask the shit out of it. But you should also enjoy it privately. It’s yours. Think of all the people you know that don’t have anyone, or are going through a difficult divorce, or recently lost their husband or wife. Celebrate your love, but think of others who don’t have anyone. You wouldn’t go tap dancing around a wheelchair convention, would you?
Now there are things about Valentine’s Day I like. I enjoy buying my family little gifts. I like helping my kids prepare treat bags and seeing all the valentines they bring home. I like funny and super awesome Valentine’s Day cards. I even–yes–like to get gifts (gasp). But really, I just like collecting old valentines.
Some of the valentines I’ve collected are funny, others just beautiful. The following valentine always intrigued me, since it totally alluded to gettin’ it on–olden days style. However, I could never quite figure out what “sterilize” might mean in this context. Who was the “speaker” in this situation? Is the woman or the man initiating the request to “get busy”? What were “sterilization” methods for each gender around this time? Did this “procedure” take place in Salem, Ohio? So weird.
I’m hoping any reproductive rights specialists or just some crazy polymath can shed some light on this little card.
Oh, and Happy February 14th!!! I love you!