Last Friday we dropped off my daughter’s valentines at school. Her teacher stood outside the classroom with the small white bags she had prepared with the name of each child written on front in pink ink.
My daughter and I sorted through the valentines, her excitement growing exponentially. She had spent hours selecting the right card for each classmate. She wanted everyone to enjoy the day.
I have a confession—although it’s not one I could share. Her millennial mom has never truly enjoyed Valentine’s Day. As a kid, my teachers didn’t require students to bring cards for everyone. On more than one occasion, I sat in the corner, holding my empty bag, the shame of rejection threading through me while the other kids “Oohed” and “Ahhhed” about their cards—proof of how well-liked they were.
Thankfully, school rules have changed. Kids are now required to give Valentines to everyone in class. It’s no longer permitted to make Valentine’s Day a popularity contest. Even so, when I peered into my daughter’s bags, I was struck by the waste. Those cards had once been trees and now were paper that would be tossed by parents in just a few days.
My heart also broke for the kids whose parents were worrying too much about putting food on their tables to bother with buying valentines. Those goodie bags of cards seemed to draw a financial line that was unfair to children. I looked into the bag again and made a decision. Next January, I will donate valentines to my daughter’s school for any child whose family doesn’t have room in their budget for nonessential items. Secondly, instead of handing out a bag of cute but wasteful paper cards, I plan on providing a filling snack.
I know that I alone can’t change the trajectory of Valentine’s Day. But I’m still going to try. Isn’t that what love does?
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