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“What’s love got to do, got to do with it…”

I’m taking a stand. I’m drawing a line in the pink and red sand and humming “We’re not Gonna Take it” under my breath. It’s time for us to join together and rise up against the machine of Valentine’s Day gifts for our children’s classmates. It all begins with you and me- won’t you join me?

When I was a kid, we used to go and buy valentines with cartoon characters on them. We would write our classmate’s name on the top and the next day, we would hand them out. We would have a party with chocolate cupcakes with red sprinkles and cheetos. We had cups of water, or if we were fancy, cups of red punch. One year, I decided to hand out little boxes of those candy hearts, the ones that taste like chalk dipped in powdered sugar. There was a boy- a quiet boy, but a boy who haunted my fifth grade dreams. He was a loner, my first foray into “bad boys”, and he didn’t play baseball like the rest of the boys, he just loitered around the field, looking all Dylan McKayish. He didn’t ever raise his hand in class. His voice had already changed, probably when he was four. He NEVER wore a helmet on his bike. I was enthralled. I dumped out all the chalk hearts and separated them into colors because one time I heard him tell someone that the yellow ones were his favorite (of course, he said this with disdain, as though he was scoffing at the whole candy chalk heart industry). Yellow ones are also MY favorite, which clearly meant that we were soul mates. You can’t fake a connection like that. I put all the yellow ones in his box. I waited all day, watching him to see when he would open them. I watched as he opened the box, Debbie Gibson’s “Shake your Love” playing in my head, waiting for the moment he would look up, and we would join hands and plan our yellow candy chalk heart themed wedding as we rode off, sans helmets, into the sunset.

What actually happened is that I saw him TRADE MY BOX OF LOVE to another kid for JOLLY FREAKING RANCHERS AS THOUGH THOSE WOULD EVER FILL HIS HEART. Heartbroken. Debbie abruptly stopped singing and was replaced by the mournful wailing of Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t we almost have it all”

I’ve never forgotten that. So Raymond Martinez, if you are out there, just know that every time I eat a yellow candy heart, I push down a tiny bit of bitterness.

But now that I am an adult (legally, anyway), I have a new issue with Valentine’s Day. I’m looking at you, Pinterest. You and your homemade crocheted hearts and cards made out of recycled pallet wood and individualized Baked Alaska’s and vegetables cut into hearts and arrows and dressing your kid up in a diaper and bow and arrow and the teachers gifts, DEAR LORD THE TEACHERS GIFT.  I tried your melt broken crayons into heart-shaped crayons project. Lord knows I have enough broken crayons, as my kids are convinced this will be the next Olympic sport and they are VERY dedicated to training for the gold. You know what I got? Heart shaped crayons that had melted into the color of “wet dog rolling in a pile of garbage” which is very difficult to fit onto the label. I also had the added bonus of my kitchen smelling like a spork factory. Nothing says I love you like the smell of melted sporks.

It doesn’t stop there. It’s not enough to send cupcakes or cookies anyone to class parties. Now we have to send marshmallow people holding carrot hearts, or cheese cherubs or cookies painted with Robert Frost poetry.

I can’t do it. I won’t do it. This is my stand.

Join me mamas, in taking back the Valentine’s Day of yore. Paint half your face blue and stand with me, and we will battle together against this one upmanship, for we know if we continue down this path, it will lead to our sons taking out loans for gifts that their girlfriends will expect because we taught them in third grade that a flower isn’t enough. Because they may take our yellow candy chalk hearts, but they will never take OUR FREEDOM!!!!!!

Oh Dylan. I can tell from your furrowed eyebrows that you regret throwing my love candy away. I forgive you.

Oh Dylan. I can tell from your furrowed eyebrows that you regret throwing my love candy away. I forgive you.



This post originally appeared in Feb 2013…

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