Rediscover the childhood wonder of valentines

Kayla+Padilla+is+holding+a+handful+of+valentine+cards+Photo+credit%3A+Elizabeth+Nelson

Kayla Padilla is holding a handful of valentine cards Photo credit: Elizabeth Nelson

Photo by Elizabeth Nelson

Valentine’s Day can be a dreadful time for people who feel extra isolated by the grand gestures of romance they see throughout the day. It has been overwhelmingly taken over by couples who seem to be so, so in love. What ever happened to the Valentine’s Day we celebrated as children? You know, the one where we would carefully select a theme for our cards. Whether it was Peppa Pig or Toy Story, each card required special attention because it needed to be matched with the right person. OK, let’s think this through. If you give your crush the “I need s’more friends like you” card then they’ll think you want to be friends. If you give them the “You make my heart go ribbit ribbit,” then you’ll come on too strong. It’ll be obvious you like them. But hey, maybe 2008 is your year. Maybe you want them to know they make your heart go ribbit ribbit.

Every year we forget that love extends outside of romance, and whether or not we are single, our friends and family should always be on our minds. Long gone is the excitement that comes with trying to find cards that will be most appropriate for those close to you. We forget that deep, fulfilling love can come from our friendships as well, and that Valentine’s Day can be as simple as spending time with the people you care about. So how do we get this excitement back? It’s simple: Start making Valentine’s Day cards again.

As a former Rugrats-obsessed child, one episode of the kid’s show has stuck with me for over a decade. The episode starts off with the babies eating pink, heart-shaped cookies and one of the twins says, “Hey, how come we’re eating cookies that look like our butts?” Tommy’s grandfather, Drew Pickles, is supposed to be watching his grandson and the other babies but he’s too busy melting away at his framed photo of Trixie, Drew’s true love.

Later on, the parents get all dressed up for a couples dance meant to rekindle their romances. The children are left making Valentine’s Day cards in a neighboring room. The scene, as we’d expect from babies, is disorganized. Left with few card-making materials, the babies turn to their imagination as they search for items to make their valentines pretty. Angelica Pickles, cousin of Tommy Pickles, is at a table with her friend Susie Carmichael. Susie nonchalantly rips a button off her shirt and glues it on her card. Inspired, Angelica removes a shoelace from her shoes and tapes it to her own card. Then there’s Chuckie, who insists no one can touch his valentine, it’s for his dad. Chuckie’s heart cutout, quite literally, holds a part of himself: his yanked out hair.

What stuck with me all these years wasn’t the cheesy dialogue between the parents or big gestures of romance, it was the string from Angelica’s shoe and the button from her best friend’s shirt. It was Chuckie’s hair oddly placed in the center of his paper heart cutout. It was the image of having hardly anything but finding all you needed in just what you had.

This Valentine’s Day, let’s share messages of love and friendship to those who we aren’t romantically involved with. If you haven’t been grumpily walking past the valentine’s section at the store these past few years, you’d have noticed that the cards and candy are still there, waiting to be assigned to their designated person.