Homemade cards shape our Valentine’s

Published 12:05am Friday, February 14, 2014

We have been learning what love is in the Hillyer house. It is Valentine’s Day after all.

For a week, our family has been in full-scale Valentine-making mode.

My son has been busy signing his name on paper hearts he cut out himself. Cutting a straight line with scissors is hard for a 4-year-old, so there is no doubt that they are homemade. The hearts sort of look like hearts thanks to the outline he cut around. With the addition of a red pencil and his signature, the homemade Valentines will no doubt look like Cupid’s arrow in a heart.

We have been working on these hearts for a week — three at a time because that is as many as Gibson can cut before having to take a cat break, toy break or a snack break — anything to avoid toiling in the card factory.

Valentine making is a hard business. There have been a few huffs, puffs of exasperation when the scissors don’t exactly cut what Gibson intended. There has also been much enthusiasm, if only for the fact that he gets to use the scissors at all.

Truth be known, this was my wife’s idea, because when I was a tyke, love meant taking a trip to the dollar store.

I marveled at the store shelves filled with boxes of premade Valentines ready for a quick signature and a lick to seal the envelope. The packages came with 25 single cards and envelopes, packed in small shallow cardboard boxes, wrapped in bright red cellophane.

Some cards were generic with cupids and Valentine’s Day shapes. Others featured super heroes, Care Bears and Strawberry Shortcake. This was before the day of stickers, tattoos and the other multitude of favors that today’s school children buy for their classmates.

For my family and most of the families of my classmates, nothing said love and friendship on Valentine’s Day like a small, cheap card. I would come home from school with a paper lunch bag decorated with construction paper hearts, bursting with Valentines.

With the exception of those sweet conversation hearts and red hots, candy and any other favors were rarely in the picture.

Thanks to Pinterest and the trend toward homemade crafts, you rarely see those little cards anymore. Love is no longer a box of cheap cards.

Instead it is about giving of yourself — which in my son’s case will be a raggedly cut heart with a red pencil accompanied by his signature and the words, “I think you’re sharp.” (All Valentines must have a cheesy saying.)

Thinking back to my elementary school days, I am not sure I would have noticed the difference between the store-bought and the homemade cards. Though I likely would have  passed over a homemade card for a picture of a super hero or some Star Wars figure.

Some decades after I passed out my last Valentine card, I look at these ragged pieces of paper with Gibson scribbled across the face and wonder how Spiderman and Darth Vader could even compete.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.