Mary's Valentine
Mary’s Valentine

Valentine’s Day is going to be soon.  The bigger girls who help in the kitchen are being very silly.  I heard them say that the very first person you see on that day is the one you are going to marry.  I am going to keep my eyes shut tight until I hear Father’s voice on that day.   Then they were cutting apples in half and counting the seeds to see how many children they are going to have.  I hope that means we are having apple pie today.

Mother said she would help me find some pieces of ribbons and lace to make my Valentine.  I want to give it to Father.  She told me that people who needed help thinking of what to write could look in little booklets called “Valentine Writers.”  Inside there were poems for young and old and for every occupation such as soldier or baker*.  Josh told me he always knows what to write and would never have to use a Valentine Writer.  I may pin prick the edges to make fancy border.  I could fold the paper and cut some heart shapes. I could not make the fine cuts for snowflakes at Christmas, but I am sure I could cut the hearts.  Brent said he would make an acrostic valentine.  It has verses in which the first letter of the lines spell out a Sweetheart’s name.  That would be difficult to do for some names.  Father’s name is William and that is too long.  I told Josh about Vinegar Valentines.  Mother won’t let any of us make those because they cause much pain.  They can make people very sad because they use insults.  Fat and ugly are some of the words.

**The New York Times published an editorial on Feb. 14, 1856 sharply criticizing the practice of sending manufactured Valentine’s Day cards:

“Our beaux and belles are satisfied with a few miserable lines, neatly written upon fine paper, or else they purchase a printed Valentine with verses ready made, some of which are costly, and many of which are cheap and indecent.  In any case, whether decent or indecent, they only please the silly and give the vicious an opportunity to develop their propensities, and place them anonymously , before the comparatively virtuous.  The custom with us has no useful feature, and the sooner it is abolished, the better.”

by Mary Beekman

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