Hensley to Heart: Valentine’s Day

Published 2:40 pm Monday, February 7, 2022

“Do you like me?” Check _____ YES or _____ NO.

Such handwritten notes were common among elementary students a few years ago. It was a bold, but acceptable way of finding out if another child was willing to admit their affection and be a “sweetheart.”

With great joy and anticipation, children looked forward to Valentine’s Day and the possibility of receiving a gift or card from a secret admirer. The suspense of waiting to see what kind of cards would be left in homemade Valentine boxes was sheer agony and delight. We were disappointed if our “crush” didn’t send us a card, but absolutely elated if they did.

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It seemed to me that every year each child in our class, even as we progressed through the years, would have at least one anonymous valentine. Looking back, I wonder if that act of kindness was directly from a teacher who didn’t want anyone to feel unloved in their classroom

Such youthful innocence vanished long ago I fear. Many young ladies have lost the art of romance. They don’t know how to be sweet, desirable, mysterious, and hard to get. They don’t realize that it is in the nature of males to want to be the pursuers and that the male species values more highly what they have had to work for or the lady they have had to win.

The female gender has grown bolder over the years and feel entitled to do the pursuing if they want. I suppose this comes under the idea of “equal opportunity sweethearts.”

I am a romantic at heart. I always have been. I hate to see romance redefined in the way it has in modern society. I am old fashioned enough to think that a card, a box of chocolates, or flowers are a lovely way of expressing affection to someone special and were part of the courting ritual.
Valentine’s Day originated as a memorial day for two early Christian martyrs around the third century who were both named Valentine.

In one version of the account, Saint Valentine was imprisoned by Rome and was to be put to death for his Christian teachings. He prayed for healing of his jailer’s daughter who was blind. and she received her sight. He fell in love with her and on the eve of his execution, he wrote a love letter expression his feelings for her at the end of his life and signed it, “Your Valentine.” February 14 became a day commemorated as St. Valentine’s Day many centuries ago.

In later times, the holiday came to represent a day set aside for sweethearts as an acceptable day to express one’s love for another person, or to express the hope of having the affection returned. Currently, society still embraces this day, and the economy of the United States promotes the day with good reason.

In two separate surveys, MSN estimates that the average American will spend between $175 – $210 wooing their sweetheart. Dinner for two, roses, chocolates, and perhaps a movie for two could certainly add up in a hurry!

On a blog from Syracuse University, it is estimated that florists do 40% of their annual business on Valentine’s Day. According to wewishes.com, approximately six million couples will get engaged this Valentine’s Day. Imagine the profit the jewelry industry earns each year on this single holiday!

Before I retired from teaching middle school, our school office tended to look like a florist’s shop on Valentine’s Day as parents sent flowers, stuffed animals, balloons, and candies to their children. No one wanted their child to feel left out when other students were getting mementos of love.

To be loved is the real gift without the expense or the extra trimmings. How one expresses that to their spouse, children, friends, sweethearts, or fiancé’ is entirely a personal choice. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to make an extra effort to tell the important people in our lives, “I love you.”

Judith Victoria Hensley is a retired teacher, writer, photographer and columnist for over 25 years for Harlan Enterprise.