Like Halloween, Valentine’s Day was a holiday that wasn’t really a holiday. You didn’t get any time off school, but as with Halloween there was a small party with drinks and cookies 20 minutes or so before the end of class.
Unlike Halloween where boys and girls got free candy and watched scary movies, Valentine’s Day seemed to be for women only, with women far beyond school-age getting boxes of chocolate and flowers. The only thing second-grader Charlie Miller loved about the day was the classroom party and the local bakery’s heart-shaped sugar cookies with red icing.
Downing two bowls, Charlie finished the last of his Trix that morning and brought his empty box to school. Trix was a breakfast cereal so good it didn’t need to bribe you with a free toy prize inside. In addition to the sugar sweet taste of the cereal pellets of raspberry red, lemon yellow, and orange orange, the box featured a picture of one of Charlie’s heroes, the Trix Rabbit.
The white lop rabbit would attempt to trick in Wile E Coyote fashion a pair of stuck-up kids into obtaining some Trix cereal for himself. The conceited boy and girl would avoid the trap, but unlike the Road Runner, would cruelly sneer, ‘Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!’. Charlie felt sorry for the rabbit. Thankfully, the kids in his Glen Flora School were better mannered than those punks. At least the kids didn't beat the rabbit up like the Cheerios Kid would.
When seeing a wild rabbit dart across their lawn, Charlie suggested to his mother that they give the rabbit some of his Trix. She repeated the sneers of the obnoxious children; maybe women just hated talking rabbits?
The day’s art activity was turning an empty breakfast cereal box into something covered with red or white construction or tissue paper with lots of hearts with your name written on it. There didn’t seem to be too much chance of creativity about the project.
Charlie had a brainstorm!
Miss Landwehr threatened him with an ‘F’ when she saw Charlie’s art project featuring the Trix rabbit with a white speech balloon reading,
‘HEY HONEY! HOW ABOUT SOME TRIX!’
Charlie obtained a slightly better grade by acting like the others and covering the entire box with paper hearts.
The idea of the decorated box was that every kid had to buy a bag of penny valentines at the dimestore. They all looked at least twenty years old, as were the books he read from the library, the films he watched on television, and their family’s home and neighbourhood.
The penny valentines featured what looked like Victorian paper dolls saying corny jokes imploring someone to be their Valentine.
Charlie asked his mother what a Valentine actually was. She gave him a wonderful smile and told him it was a sweetheart. When Charlie asked his older brother what a Valentine/Sweetheart was and did, he explained that not only did girls want free expensive flowers and boxes of chocolate, none of the great dime candybars that everyone really liked, but girls got their kicks out of people begging them for things and giving them expensive presents.
The point of the penny valentines was that everyone, even the Trix Rabbit if he went to school, and how Charlie wished he was his best friend, would get one. His mother said that in time, only one special person would be asked to be a valentine, and even at his age, one certain person would get an extra-large real valentine from a special someone.
Another great thing about Valentine’s Day, was that when he returned to school after lunchtime the day was sunny and warm. Winter seemed over as it was nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and like him, many of the boys took off their coats as they played in the schoolyard awaiting the afternoon bell. It would return to cold later, but everyone was happy and jubilant.
In his classroom the morning passed quickly with its recess and musical singing periods. The afternoon was a different story, for after the first hour everything would begin to D…R…A…G…as if time stood still or was retarded, 10 minutes of time only appearing as one minute on the school clock that Charlie was sure was rigged to get more time out of the kids. He looked out the window enjoying what remained of the warm afternoon.
Like the note from the Governor stopping the execution at the last minute, the Valentine’s Day festivities began. Everyone went around dumping a penny valentine into each box. Punch and red frosted biscuits were served. Charlie looked in his box…
There was one large envelope!!!
Charlie had a real valentine!!! Who was it from? He had never been attracted to any of the girls, but all of them were nice and everyone got along. He was afraid to open it in class.
He dashed home and emptied the contents of his Valentine cereal box on the floor. CHARLIE was written on the large envelope that he excitedly held in his hands.
He opened it, to find not a card, but a folded piece of white paper, his note was written large in a red for romantic magic marker, it still had its smell…who was it from? Susie? Joanie? Margie?
IF YOU EVER DEVIATE FROM A HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY DECORATED BOX AGAIN, I WILL SEND YOU TO THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE!
I HOPE YOUR MOTHER IS NOT AS ASHAMED OF YOU AS I AM!
BEHAVE YOURSELF IN THE FUTURE OR ELSE!!!
Author Notes: Happy Belated Valentine's Day!
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