Happy Valentine's Day!! I was born and raised in Valentine, Nebraska, so it's a given that Valentine's Day holds a special place in my heart (insert groan here). Valentine is a little speck of a town in the Nebraska Sandhills and other than a lot of open spaces, hunting, and fishing, Valentine's Day is what people "do" there. It's their claim to fame. There are little hearts on the street signs and bigger hearts stenciled down the sidewalks on Main Street. If you want to be clever, you can mail your Valentine's Valentine to Valentine for a special postmark. They'll slap a cachet on it and send it off to your special person. I gotta tell ya, I worked at the post office there for a couple of years and I dreaded the extra workload. But now it all seems kind of sweet.
I do have fond memories of Valentine's Day from my childhood. In Valentine, everybody celebrates. Mothers buy Valentines for their children, children make Valentines for their grandparents - nobody is left out for lack of a partner. Everybody loves somebody. The biggest pageant of the year happens there on Valentine's Day - Coronation. Children from each grade are selected to be a part of the carefully choreographed and scripted event and, at least when I was in school, it was a big deal to be chosen. There are different themes each year. Some years they do the traditional red and white and hearts bit and some years they get a lot more creative. The year my little brother was the "messenger", he got to run up and down the aisle taking messages to the emcees wearing a little Paul Revere suit. How cool is that!
Me, on the other hand? I was in middle school when I got chosen - maybe 6th grade. And I got to be a tree. Yep, you read that right - a flippin' tree. I challenge you to name just ONE teenage girl who wants to dress up in a tree costume and parade around in front of the whole town. Can't, can you?
Anyway, my costume consisted of a lovely bark colored shapeless tree trunk dress (floor length, no shaping at all) and a headband with leaves sticking out of it. My fellow trees and I held up leafy branches to form an arch under which the beautifully dressed king and queen candidates passed. I have a photo somewhere of me in that costume. It was taken against my will, believe me. Good times. UPDATED to add proof:
See - I told you - I couldn't make this stuff up. By the way, did you notice the groovy macrame plant hangers?
I did get to be a candidate for queen in my senior year, thank goodness. It was my chance to be in the Coronation dressed in a pretty dress and redeem myself. Somewhat. I mean, I'll probably never fully recover from the tree costume trauma, but that helped.
So anyway, whether you're the queen or a tree, I hope you enjoy your day. And if you'd like to read more about my hometown, check out this post. Love ya!