Mickey and Pluto think you’re swell
I just realized that it’s February.
I know that’s not a huge revelation, and it’s not like I didn’t know it before now. But it occurred to me that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. Tomorrow.
That means it’s really cold outside, and there’s snow on the ground. But we don’t care. There’s going to be a party at school. All week long we’ve been decorating the shoeboxes we brought from home with red, white, and pink paper, and pasting homemade hearts to them to make them all fancy. There’s a hole cut in the top of the box. This is our mailbox.
We trudge into the classroom dropping mittens, our faces all rosy-cheeked and sniffly and our snow boots tracking in bits of slush. Each of us has a bag full of little envelopes we addressed at home, a valentine card tucked into each one. Those valentines aren’t homemade. They came in boxes from the store, and we chose the ones we loved best for the people we loved best, and we chose the most generic “friend” kind for the people we hoped wouldn’t read too much into the fact that we were giving them a valentine, since the rule is that you have to give everyone a valentine card and you’re not allowed to skip anyone, not even that weird kid who picks his nose during class and chews his food with his mouth open.
We do our schoolwork with half of our attention on the party that’s yet to come. The day takes forever. But it’s finally time, and we put our mailboxes on our desktops and begin to play postman with our little bags full of valentines. Someone hands out cupcakes and boxes full of conversation hearts. We each get a little styrofoam cup of Koolaid. Teacher gives us heart-shaped lollipops and then ushers us out the door to the school bus before the full effects of the sugar kick in.
Once home we sit down and open our valentines, carefully inspecting each one for any hints of hidden love or unwanted attention, although it’s obvious most of the class used the same half-dozen boxes available at the local store. Some of the valentines have a few extra conversation heart candies tucked inside. We pop those in our mouths quickly before Mom can see that we have a potential dinner-spoiler issue lurking. No sense tempting the Wrath of Mom.
Yes, this is February.
Except…it’s February and there’s no snow. I don’t even own mittens or snow boots. It’s been decades since I attended school or made a valentine mailbox, and I don’t even know what ever happened to that weird kid.
But if I close my eyes I can still hear and see all the glory of the longest month of the year.