A Family Valentine’s Day

by Melanie Elliott

Melanie Elliott's family

I’m kind of one of those people who consider Valentine’s Day a Hallmark-created holiday.  Growing up, I tried not to buy into the importance of the day and the romantic notions that permeate this holiday.  I wasn’t quite successful.

There was a part of me that longed for the flowers and chocolates and the boyfriend who’d treat me like a queen on this special day.  But, that was only a part of me.  The other part of me didn’t want to be defined by whom I was with or how I was treated when February 14 rolled around.

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Valentine’s Day History: The Mother of the American Valentine

esther howlandArtist Esther Howland (1828–1904) was the first to publish and sell Valentine cards in the United States. Before Esther, many Valentine cards were hand made with paper, lace, and ribbons and handwritten poetry. By the end of the 19th century, most Valentines were mass-produced by machine, many based on Esther’s designs.

The Howland Family operated the largest book and stationery store in Worcester, Massachusetts.  As a young student at The Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, Class of 1847, and a contemporary of the poet Emily Dickinson, Esther had been exposed to the annual Valentine celebrations. After graduating at the age of nineteen, she received an intricate English Valentine from one of her fathers’ business acquaintances. She was sure that she was capable of making similar or even better ones.

Persuading her father to order lace paper and other supplies from England and NYC and, with determination, she made a dozen valentine’s samples, which her brother added to his catalog for his next sales trip. Hoping for as much as $200 in orders, they were shocked when her brother returned with more than $5,000 in advance sales, more than she could make herself.  Faced with the huge order, she asked her three best friends to help her. A Valentine assembly line was born at the Howland home.  In 1879, The New England Valentine Company was born.

Esther is credited with several innovations in valentine design: the small brightly colored wafer of paper placed to give contrast under the white paper lace; and the built-up shadow box that became popular in the latter part of her career. While not the only Valentine’s Day card shop, Howland’s became [Read More…]

By |February 10th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: |0 Comments

Repercussions of a Greeting Card Holiday

by Randi Hoffman


v-day cards
Valentine’s Day falls in the dead of winter, and this has been one of the coldest, snowiest and wettest. Romantically, I can imagine a roaring fireplace in an isolated cabin, some brandy, no children, reading Marguerite Duras’ The Lover to each other. But I am lucky if I get some cheap chocolates and flowers from the East Village Key Food.

It is a holiday of disappointment, even if I know in the back of my head that my expectations are unrealistic. [Read More…]

By |February 8th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living, In Vitro/Natural Childbirth|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The Heart’s Memory Lives On

by Lori Pelikan Strobel

Lori Pelikan's V-Day card IOn my kitchen counter there sits a small basket. In the basket, there is a small, folded-up piece of notebook paper. I have kept this note for 36 years. It is yellowed and slightly torn at the corners, but I haven’t been able to throw it out. It has a very special Valentine’s Day message to me.

I remember the grade school days of giving Valentine’s Day cards to all of my classmates. My mother would drive me to the store and I would painstakingly pick out the perfect box of Valentine’s Day cards for my friends. After handing them out in class, I can clearly see myself breathlessly waiting to open the cards from my friends, especially the boys. Somehow my girlfriends and I could always figure out which boy liked us. [Read More…]

Skipping Valentine’s Day Forever (A Love Story)

by Nicholas D'Ambra

Nicholas son in winterWhen I was little, my Dad would come home every Valentine’s Day with his arms over flowing with sweets and treats from our local Douglas Drug store. I can imagine him standing in a long line with other men who were last minute shopping.

My Dad wasn’t a last minute shopper, this was just how he did it, every single year.  The gifts he carried weren’t just for my Mom, but for me and my sister as well. There were always chocolates for us and sometimes a toy or stuffed animal.  My mom annually received a large heart-shaped box of chocolates and roses.

Years later, I carried on with the tradition. I bought similar gifts for that special person I was dating. I also purchased various chocolates and heart shaped items for my single friends so they wouldn’t feel left out. Then, when I met my husband-to-be, it all changed. Valentine’s Day was no longer that special day to espouse love and present gifts. It was just another day, no special than any other. It saddened me to think it was over. [Read More…]

Cupid’s Dilemma (A Cynical Look at Valentine’s Day, With Some Statistics, Too)

by Nancy LaMar-Rodgers

cupidSaint Valentine’s Day Massacre

Ok so it’s not that dramatic but let’s face it, Valentine’s Day is a pressure cooker.  My single friends loathe it because it reminds them they are single.  My newly divorced friends hate it because it makes them feel like failures and, quite frankly, my few happily married friends also detest it, because of the pressure of reminding each other “how much you really mean to me.”

Let’s face it, if you are still married after 20 years in this day and age, it’s a miracle unto itself and for me, I love nothing better than my husband doing the laundry and dishes, and for him I am sure my showing of love on that day comes in the form of less flannel and more stockings and heels. [Read More…]

Valentines Schmalentines

by Jo-Ann Rogan

Valentine’s Day is a waste of time and I tend not to celebrate it in any meaningful way. I don’t require my husband to bring me gifts or take me out for dinner.  Valentine’s Day is about a month and a half from Christmas and exactly a month before our wedding anniversary. We can celebrate love any other time of the year and we won’t have to fight a crowd.  We might say “Happy Valentine’s Day” and hug, but the celebration ends there.  Usually, for my kids, I plan an experience in the time around Valentine’s Day, like a trip to the indoor water park or another fun event.

I don’t need a holiday for my husband to show me he loves me.  He does that when he makes me a cocktail with fresh squeezed juice on Saturday nights after I have served drinks to half of the city for two nights in a row. I feel the love when we stand in the kitchen supposedly cooking but instead we are watching a TV show on the kitchen computer, and he starts to rub my back.   [Read More…]

Louise Hay’s 12 Commandments or How to Love Yourself (In Honor of V-Day)

1. STOP ALL CRITICISM.
Criticism never changes a thing. Refuse to criticize yourself. Accept yourself exactly as you are. Everybody changes. When you criticize yourself, your changes are negative. When you approve of yourself, your changes are positive. [Read More…]

By |February 1st, 2015|Categories: Daily Living|Tags: |1 Comment

(The True Joy of) Having Children – A Rebirth, Of Sorts

by Marc Parsont

FamilyMany of us want children.  I know I did.  How else can you get onto an airplane before all the luggage bins have filled?

Children provide us with the ability to skip work, miss deadlines, avoid boring parties and generally provide us with irrefutable alibis. [Read More…]

By |January 30th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living|Tags: , , |0 Comments

I Became A Mother in January: An Anniversary Celebration

by Andrea Lynn

I became a mother in January. My mother drove me through the freezing dark night, sometime between midnight and dawn, to the hospital, my doula following in her own car behind. My labor, strong and painful and many hours old, seemed to suspend itself for the duration of the drive, so worried was I that my mom, driving an unfamiliar car through an unfamiliar city, would lose the way. Hours later, she held one side of me and the doula the other, straining with me as the nurse instructed: “Push. Push.” [Read More…]

By |January 28th, 2015|Categories: Commentary, Daily Living|Tags: , , , |1 Comment
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