Since we cannot mention the holidays that are actually meaningful to our students in public schools anymore, we make a big deal out of the ones left over: Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, and (St.) Valentine’s Day. We even made up our own, Hundreds Day, which marks the one hundredth day of school in the school year.

So today, all the kids will come to school armed with their obligatory Valentines to distribute to those in their class. I teach English for Speakers of Other Languages, so I always keep extras on hand because some new families just don’t “get” Valentine’s Day and it is very distressing to their teachers if the kids don’t have cards to pass out.

As a child, we made our own Valentine’s out of construction paper and doilies to give to our classmates. It was quite an endeavor, each year with more children attending school and more classes to cater for. I have fond memories of spending hours around the dining room table with my sisters and glue sticks. I did wish, though that we could give out store-bought cards like most of the people at school.

Like everyone, we had little postboxes at school and circled the room, placing our Valentines in each box. Then (the best part), we would sit down with some horrible sugared treat and look through our loot. One year I got a big card with a glittery bear on it that had a special handwritten note inside, but it was not signed. I was sure it was from a secret admirer, and was quite thrilled.

These days, most kids hand out a store-bought card of some sort (Hannah Montana and Transformers are sure to be popular choices) and it seems like the majority attach some sort of candy, too. My pre-school daughter was up late last night as we worked on Valentines for her class; she signed her name to each and adhered heart stickers as I took care of the other writing and gluing. While I think Valentine’s Day is silly in many ways, it is nice to have a little reminder to tell someone you love them (or like them).

Oh, and, looking back it at now, I am pretty sure my “secret admirer” just forgot to sign his name.