It was not too many years ago that I lamented the stress of Valentines Day. It was one of my most popular blogs.
I am not talking about the pressure on couples to find the perfect gift or way to celebrate (do people with kids still do this???). Or even singles feeling the pang of not being in a couple on a day when it feels like everyone else is.
I talked about the stress of getting Valentines cards put together. For school. And a heart shaped chocolate added.
Only a year after my initial Valentine's blog, I triumphantly blogged about the progress we had made. Valentines signed, chocolates attached with time to spare.
As one might expect, I got complacent.
In the weeks before February 14, I usually make a trip to the grocery store with the kids so they can pick their Valentines. I have been thinking that this year, it would be harder for Jackson to find a suitable theme. Since they don't yet make Valentines with a theme that would entirely suit the world of grade 4 boys e.g. "world's grossest boogers" or "reasons not to like Justin Bieber", I didn't really did not know what sort of suitable cards we would find.
Then Husband was away for a week, then I caught a bug and somehow buying Valentines slipped my mind. Last week one day, I thought we would go after school, when one of Sydney's classmates informed me she was coming to our house for a play date. I was too stunned to say anything but yes and that kayboshed the heart buying trip.
On Friday after school, February 11th, I asked them what kind of Valentines they would like. That's when I heard them. The most feared words in the world of Valentine:
"Mommy, I want to make my own Valentines this year."
Yes, Sydney wanted to go all crafty. The craft gene is obviously passed down by two recessive genes as I am not at all crafty. And by comparison to Husband, I am Martha Freakin' Stewart. I discovered that we did have a lot of pink card stock and was thinking that maybe we could print out some cute pink and red heart themed pictures and paste them on, when I remembered we just replaced our printer. Our old one was bleeding us dry in replacing the colour cartridges and was smearing. Our new one was black and white because, I reasoned, we don't need a colour printer to print out the odd grocery list or email.
Fortunately (?) Sydney woke up with a fever on Saturday morning. As Husband was heading out to get groceries and buy Valentines she was extremely lethargic and which I readily exploited and she agreed that she could hand make the TEACHER'S Valentines, but she would use the regular kind for her class.
Daddy left with cell phone charged ready to call and present the myriad of options for Valentines. Sydney, I know, is not fussy and professed that she would be happy with anything except Dora the Explorer. Jackson would not commit to anything he found vaguely acceptable. I hoped that Ironman would be popular this year.
The phone rang and I readied the kids to discuss with Daddy their selections, when Husband said to me the second most dreaded words in the world of the Valentine:
"They are all sold out."
WHAT THE FRACKK?????? Who runs out of Valentines? This was Superstore that had run out, a gigantic grocery store that is usually prepared with enough Valentines for the Continent of Asia.
No worries. Husband stopped off at Safeway where really no one shops anymore. It is so quiet I go there for the spa like quietness and really enjoy shopping (until it's time to pay). Surely they would have Valentines.
Were all the Valentines buyers too busy watching the drama in Egypt unfold the past 19 days and forget to stock up?
I sent Husband to Michael's the craft store, as I had good intelligence via Facebook that a mere 48 hours earlier they had ample supply.
Forty eight hours can make all the difference. Sold out.
Husband came home and started a phone campaign over the Tri Cities looking for Valentines. He feared nothing more than having to listen to me try to make some 55 handmade Valentines with the kids.
Eventually he found available stock at a dollar store and at Save On Foods, another large grocery store chain. I headed out in the pouring rain for my Valentines-or-Bust tour.
I asked at Customer service in Save On Foods where the Valentines were. "With the stationary".
At the stationary, I found no Valentines but a manager told me they moved them to "the end of the aisle".
At the end of the aisle, I found chocolates but no cards. And then I heard the dreaded words "Oh, maybe we're sold out."
At that moment I know that someone, somewhere was making a killing on Craig's list, selling $2.49 Hello Kitty Valentines for $40.
But then, a guy on a walkie talkie has a lead. "What we've got left is by the make-up aisle".
My heart sank as I saw the few boxes left, the ones no one else wanted. The Charlie Brown Christmas trees of Valentines. I see Spiderman (for 6 year olds) Lightning McQueen (for 4 year olds), a glut of Mickey Mouse Club (for 2 year olds). I see a few Tinkerbell which I know will do in a pinch for Sydney. Then I see a couple boxes of Barbie Valentines which will suit Sydney perfectly. Score!
Darnit!! Why didn't I buy these in January. Will Jackson go for Spiderman?
Then I experienced my February miracle. One lonely, beautiful box of Shrek Valentines. What 9 year old would say no to a boxful of ogres? (mine was wise enough not to disagree with "Jackson Shrek is really cool in grade 4, right? That would be perfect? Ogres are like gross and full of warts, that's good for grade 4!??")
On Sunday afternoon, is was a bit of a full court press to get both kids to sign and label their Valentines. Jackson had some stressful moments when he realized that he had 28 regular sized Valentines and 4 large. He needed 29 for his class and he could not see his way clear to giving only one kid a large Valentine. We tried trimming one down. As Jackson would say "fail".
Jackson's solution was to hope someone would be sick but didn't think through the process of going to school without addressing any Valentines and then quickly addressing 28 Valentines if he were lucky enough to discover that someone was home sick. All while on a field trip. He eventually agreed that giving a larger one to the boy in the class he spends the most time with, was appropriate.
By bedtime, the Valentines were tucked into their backpacks. But it was all for naught.
Both kids home sick on the day of love.
Happy Valentines Day!!