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This is not a recent development. When I was in the second grade, my teacher's name was Mrs. Dunkelberger. She wore her iron-gray hair in a bun and ran our classroom with an iron fist. In the run-up to Valentine's Day, she was insistent that everyone not only bring enough valentines for every kid in the class, but that we had to sign the backs of all the cards we were handing out. On the appointed day, after valentines were passed out, another student complained about receiving an unsigned card. Mrs. Dunkelberger's solution was to call a halt to the whole thing. The details are fuzzy -- we may have been required to reclaim all the valentines we'd brought -- but in any case, we had to go back to our regular work instead of having a party.
Granted, it was a long time ago. But that sort of injustice sticks with a person.
Since then, I've come to view Valentine's Day as not just an excuse for florists to triple their prices, but as a sly way to make unattached people feel inadequate. You can always tell the unattached. We're the ones in line at the drugstore on February 15th, buying ourselves the heart-shaped box of chocolates we didn't receive the day before. On the upside, they're half price. On the downside...yeah.
This feeling may or may not have influenced me when I wrote the ending of Fissured. As you may know, that's the book in which Joseph goes walkabout on Valentine's Day without a word of explanation to Naomi. (Seriously, Joseph? If you forgot to get her flowers, there are better ways to handle it.)
Interestingly (according to Wikipedia), St. Valentine didn't start out being the patron saint of lovers. He was originally considered to be the first saint of spring. Slovenians believed that on his day, birds chose their mates and flowers began to grow. In 1382, Chaucer took the charming folk tradition about the birds and worked it into a poem honoring the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. So we have him to blame for starting all this lace-edged nonsense.
Anyway, for this Black Friday, I decided to lighten my own mood by giving some books away. Three signed copies of Crosswind are up for grabs at Goodreads. Feel free to enter (US and Canada only, sorry) by clicking either this link or the one in the box on the left. The contest runs through the 22nd.
And in addition, especially for readers of my blog, the most pathetic Valentine's Day story posted here in the comments gets a Land, Sea, Sky mini-bookmark signed by Yours Truly. Go on -- spill it. It'll make me feel better.
On top of all that, the trailer for Crosswind is featured today at Indies Unlimited. If you haven't had a chance to see it yet, stop by.
These moments of bloggy love (ahem) have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.