You’re reading the newspaper. You’re a grown-up. You have probably forgotten the days of buying paper valentines to distribute to your friends’ desks in grade school. Don’t worry, Christy NaMee Eriksen, aka TSUNAMEE, has got you covered. If you were ever curious about the woman perched outside the Canvas Art Studio in Tuesdays past, with a typewriter and a look of concentration, this is her art — it’s as much about sharing the love as it is about sharing words.
Looking for inspiration for Valentine’s Day, I discovered people were shy about their love stories and only slightly more open about abhorring the day. As it turns out, the people who might have the best time on this holiday are kids.
Meilani Shijvens, whose now-5-year-old son is likely baking something sweet for the holiday, suggested the best place to visit for a good experience would be an exchange at an elementary school or preschool. Thea Howard’s children were happy to help us remember what Valentine’s Day can be like, before dates and extravagent gifts and overwhelming expectations become part of the picture.
“Exchanging valentines in my class takes about a half an hour in the morning,” says 10-year-old Cameron, “Everyone gives each other valentines. We get up and run around the classroom and find each person who we made a valentine for and put it in a bag that he or she decorated. We each get one piece of candy and then we sit down and get to work.”
Audrey, who is only 4 years old, attends the Montessori school, which has a Valentine’s Day tea tradition.
“My favorite part about Valentine’s Day is that I get to wear a pretty dress and have tea with my parents at school. I also get to eat a cookie. Then, I get to show them my work. My parents take my bag of valentines home so I can look at them after school. I love my valentines because they are pretty.”
Experiencing the way her daughters enjoy the holiday has an effect on Howard as well.
“Every time I go to Valentine’s Day Tea, I’m reminded of the importance of doing things to make others happy, and how everyone feels good when they’re included.”
So, hopefully this has provided both the inspiration and the motivation, as well as the tools to spread a little Valentine’s Day love of your own. The holiday is on Tuesday, and even small gestures count.