My junior high school had a delightful tradition called Carnation Day. I don’t think it actually took place on Valentine’s Day, but the sentiment of it was similar. In short, for $1 students could fill out a card to be sent any other student of their choice. On Carnation Day, all the cards were delivered, each with a fresh carnation. I always remember being pleasantly surprised when I received a carnation or two, since I never expected it. I do remember sending a carnation to a hopeless band geek whom my friend Chris had already warned me probably planned to marry his trumpet; and receiving carnations from a boy I barely knew but whose artistic talent I admired. But somehow, unlike valentines, the carnations didn’t have the romantic overtones that make for heartbreak. After all, the carnations were mostly sent to friends, by friends, which certainly helped sell more flowers.
Now, since I’ve met Peter Valentine’s Days have been great, but before I knew him, I dreaded the day. If it wasn’t a painful reminder of my singleness, it was an equally painful reminder of how clueless or callow my current boyfriend was. My former roommate, Valda, had her own clever way around that. Even though she was well into her 30s (and single all her life), she’d buy a box of children’s valentines, the small ones that are meant for an elementary school child to give to all his classmates. Valda would give the little valentines to all her friends and acquaintances on Valentine’s Day, and I remember being quite charmed to receive one from her.
So if you happen to be single today (or haven’t gotten around to kicking your next ex to the curb), make the day your own carnation day, and like Valda, make it a friend appreciation day instead.