|February is my favorite month. I know it’s the coldest, but it’s also the shortest and it has so many nice, special days. It is the moth of some of my favorite birthdays, some of which are family members and two of which are my particular heroes, Lincoln and Washington. Then, there’s that extra special day, Valentine’s Day.
What’s not to love about a day devoted to love? There is something so special about a heart shaped box of chocolates. Long after they’re empty, they can be saved to hold mementoes like cards or letters.
Valentine cards are something else. I remember with fondness how the day was observed in elementary school. Everyone brought in a shoe box or tissue box which we decorated. These were to hold the penny valentines bought by the package. The teacher always had extra for any child who either forgot or couldn’t afford to buy them.
They were small cards appropriately depicting hearts, cupids with bows and arrows and fitting sentiments like Be Mine. Everyone put a card in everyone else’s box. The teacher always supplied small paper candy baskets filled with small candy hearts, also inscribed with sentiments of the day. You can still buy bags of these.
I can remember a neighbor, a rather unpleasant fellow of whom I was not too fond, telling about coming home from a second grade Valentine’s Day school party, happily carrying his candy basket, pink cupcake and cards and tripping, spilling and ruining everything. Apparently he had been a disadvantaged kid and treats were very rare. His eyes watered as he told the story, doing his best to laugh. I almost warmed up to him.
I still have valentines sent to me by my husband and children. I wish I had kept the funny ones my mother always sent - always accompanied by a loving one.
My family was always big on Valentine’s Day, I guess because I always was. My husband always gave me bouquets of violets and I still have the cards, although the heart shaped candy box sort of disintegrated over time. That’s okay, so did I.
We used to have two big school days off during February, the 12th, Lincoln’s
birthday and the 22nd, Washington’s birthday. I can’t remember when it was decided to combine the two in order for there to be three days off in a row. I really think the two separate days is a better deal. I just read an article where the writer observed the fact that he had noticed three different spellings of the word President in Presidents Day. One was the one I just used, meaning plural Presidents. The other two were: Presidents’ Day still meaning more than one, and President Day meaning all of them. He made the point that he didn’t think all of them deserved a special commemorative day, that Lincoln and Washington were head and shoulders above the pack, (quite literately), and deserved the honor.
I have spent a lifetime studying both of them and I couldn’t agree more. If there's a letter, note, a written speech, a grocery list or anything written by them that I haven’t read it hasn’t yet been found. I even spent hours reading Washington’s; account books, even his personal expense account books, kept during his time in the army and at Mount Vernon. I can tell you he kept strict track of every penny he spent.
I did the same thing where Lincoln was concerned. Both men kept all the household accounts and were exceptionally efficient. I was interested in the details of their personal lives in order to know them better. I only wish I could have found any Valentine’s they might have sent.