Hallmark Saints

There’s so much pressure on a person these days.

I was born with a Victorian mind, I think. At least in some respects. Making a Valentine from a lacy white paper doily, a cut-out red velvet heart, and some pink ribbon would have been just my speed.


Inside, I would have written: To Algernon (for example) from an admirer. Never a signature. That was the point: to let someone know they were admired, adored, desired – but only at a distance. I would have used my left hand to write with, to disguise my identity.

And all this would have been very daring then. Because I think Valentines were only offered by men to women, not the other way round.

Even when I was growing up, the idea was to collect as many unknown followers as possible. (Kind of like social media nowadays.) Generally of the opposite sex, because gay people were illegal, and others apparently not invented yet. (Not like social media, where I’d be happy never to see another army captain with a dog who thinks he’d like to be my friend…) The Valentine’s Day cards, always romantic, never humorous or sexy, had to be delivered by the mailman.

I never got any, and was always crushed. My mother sent me one the year I turned sixteen, having seen through my “I don’t care if I never get one” act. She signed it ‘An admirer,’ as was still the custom then, but something about the writing tipped me off. It was pretty well disguised, actually, but I figured it out and my brief glimmer of hope went out like a match flame. valentines

These days, the stress begins in grade school.  Kids are expected to give everyone in the class a card with the sender’s name on it, even if they hate them. Well done, Hallmark. You’ve managed to turn a shy declaration of regard into an exercise in futility. And forests of trees have been sacrificed for this.

Facebook, which has cornered the market for ‘followers’, would like me to put up a photo of my beau with a frame of hearts they are happy to supply. Bah, Humbug. Or something.

And my local patissier is offering two individual mini chocolate cakes with a cherry on top, surrounded by blush-colored icing, designed to look like two breasts in an almost-non-existent bra. If one had a lover to share those with, I don’t suppose they’d ever get eaten. Just looking at them might make a red-blooded couple race for the bedroom. Or the dining room table.

Poor old St. Valentine. That sad Roman martyr had no idea that in his honor Godiva would make a fortune each year from heart-shaped ganache truffles. Or that on his feast day, sales of red roses costing four times as much as usual could make or break a florist’s finances for the year.

We can take a little breath now until St. Patrick’s Day, when everyone is encouraged to become Irish, or green, or drunk, or an Irish person drunk on green beer.

Still, the greatest pressure of all is yet to come. Launch Day for my memoir, Love’s Journey Home, is May 7, and I’m looking forward to it.

But I have a feeling it may be eclipsed by Mother’s Day (May 8). Bloody Hallmark.


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