Friday, February 14, 2014

A Few Random Thoughts About St. Valentine & His Day

from Jacqueline

 There was a time when sending a Valentine card was done in secret.  You never signed your name, and you left the card somewhere to be found by the object of your desire and affection, or you posted it to their address, anonymously.  That’s how it was always done when I was growing up.  Then I came to America and found that a Valentine is pretty much sent to every man, woman, dog, cat, grandma, grandpa, favorite teacher, aunt, uncle, best friend and, of course, the object of affection from afar.  That is what you could probably call the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

(Caption:  "OK, first things first - did everyone sign the card?"  From last week's New Yorker)

 Both my husband and I (sorry, I know that’s an incorrect locution in the eyes of Americans, but when I was at school we were taught that to say “and me” was bad manners and incorrect. Personally, I think it’s because the Queen says “my husband and I” and of course “over there” what the Monarch says, is what is right.  Which is why a River named the Thames is pronounced “Tems” – and that’s a piece of trivia I’ll save for another time), anyway, as I was saying, both my husband and I tend to either forget St. Valentine’s Day altogether, or we remember at the last minute.  You can see the cogs working in our brains all day.  “Is today someone’s birthday?  The date sure does ring a bell.” We’re like that on our wedding anniversary too – but blame the woman who married us for that one.  She put the wrong date on the marriage license, so we’re never quite sure if we should celebrate on October 21st or 22nd.  Last year my husband called apologizing profusely for forgetting the anniversary – I’d forgotten too, but I wasn’t going to tell him that!

 So, what’s it all about, this Valentine’s Day? 

 According to that fount of sometimes suspect information, Wikipedia, there are many legends surrounding St. Valentine.  “One is that in the 1st century AD it is said that Valentine, who was a priest, defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly married couples so that the husbands wouldn’t have to go to war. Soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. Another legend is that Valentine refused to sacrifice to pagan gods. Being imprisoned for this, Valentine gave his testimony in prison and through his prayers healed the jailer’s daughter who was suffering from blindness. On the day of his execution he left her a note that was signed ‘Your Valentine.’”

 I like the idea of marrying people so men wouldn’t have to go to war.  I think Valentine would be all for marrying anyone who wanted to be married, regardless of sexual orientation, color, cultural background, or whatever – that’s what I call family values, and I think our Valentine would have been a staunch supporter of love, never mind from whence it came or to whom it was directed, and who shared that love.  Good for him!

“St.  Valentine’s Day is a day for love, romance and devotion,” says another commentator.  If that is so, then let me count my loves.

I love my family, my husband, my dog, two horses and a cadre of true friends that amounts to true riches in this world – surely more than one person deserves. 

I love where I live ...

and I love where I came from, in equal measure.

 (Don’t worry, I’ll stop the laundry list right there – this isn’t supposed to be a list of Our J’s loves).

But let’s think of love today, and what it means to love without condition, to love until your heart is so swollen you think it might break.  What does it mean to have love for one’s fellow human beings, indeed for every resident of this earth that we love so much?  When I get that far, I think of our poor beleaguered earth, and remember the saying, “You only hurt the ones you love.”

Have a lovely St. Valentine’s Day.  Go on, give the ones you love a great big hug – via Skype if that’s all you can do.  After all, love makes the world go round.

And finally, I really love the fact that the dog next door has stopped barking.  Jeez, talk about testing the limits of love thy neighbor!!!


  1. I love you Jackie, I love Maisie Dobbs, I love my family, I love my friends. I especially love that my new water heater was finally installed this morning with no mess. Happy St. Valentine's Day all of your readers! rbb

    1. from Jacqueline: Yay, love your water heater! That should be on a t-shirt RBB!!!

  2. You are absolutely correct in saying "my husband and I tend to forget." because in that sentence you are the subject of the sentence. I'm sure you would never say "Me tend to forget" would you.

    1. from Jacqueline: You're absolutely right, of course, but I have heard a similar sentence corrected here. I don't think I would have started a sentence such as this with "Me" even when I was about one year old!! Happy Valentine's Day!

  3. I remember Valentine's Day in grade school (that's what we called it back in the day). Each member of the class made a large envelope with his/her name on it where cards were placed. As I recall, you were required to bring cards to everyone or no one to prevent the popular kids from getting all of the cards. Or maybe that was just my mother's rule.

    Happy Valentine's Day to all and especially to Our J for reminding me that today was the day! Off to buy cards for the cats...

  4. from Jacqueline: Patty, your mother and the school had the right idea! I love the idea of children getting lots of cards on St. Valentine's Day - children should always know there's love out there for them. Go cuddle a cat now!

  5. James O. Born2/14/2014 1:12 PM

    Good post, Jackie. My elementary school experience is EXACTLY like Patty. I even remember most the kids by name.


    1. from Jacqueline - thank you, Jim. I don't remember doing anything special in primary school - or any school, now I come to think about it. But I am sure there was some leaving of cards in desks and trying not to be discovered!

    2. Jacqueline,

      Both my husband and I (sorry, I know that’s an incorrect locution in the eyes of Americans, but when I was at school we were taught that to say “and me” was bad manners and incorrect. Personally, I think it’s because the Queen says “my husband and I” and of course “over there” what the Monarch says, is what is right.
      Your use is correct here - because "husband and I" is the subject and not an object. IF you had said that the queen gave flowers to my husband and I, in that case, it should be "husband and me." ("The queen gave flowers to me - the object").

      We all make this mistake all of the time, but in this case you did NOT!

      Cindy Rohrbeck
      A fan of Maisie Dobbs...
      Washington, DC

    3. from Jacqueline: Thank you Cindy! Yes I know I'm right, but for some reason, I have been corrected here in the USA for using the "and I" when indeed "husband and I" (for example) is the subject. I think it's just that "and me" is used far more often in everyday speech than it is in Britain. But there you go!


  6. Somewhere in time, it apparently became permissible for educated literate Americans to say: "Me and my wife..." etc. Which is twice as bad as "My wife and me went to movies and I shot the guy in front of me." You Brits have it right. Brilliant!