Today is my wedding anniversary.
We really didnít plan the event around Valentineís Day. It just sort of happened.
Last Saturday was my birthday. And as I get older and older, I appreciate things a little bit more. What I really appreciate right now is that my wife, Wendy, is in town for the week. She is working and living here and discovering Brownwood along with me. And that is one heck of a valentine.
And although it would seem counterintuitive, I find my memory is getting somewhat better with age. Well, at least the long-term portion of my memory.
One of those ancient memories is of the Valentineís Day parties we would have in elementary school. Our parents would buy us a little plastic-wrapped box of valentines and we would exchange valentines with everyone else in the class.
It was kind of nice in its own way. Everyone felt special and loved for one day. And it was a great way to get out of having to watch a social studies film strip.
Hey, I told you it was long-term memory.
And when I saw those valentines start to appear on retail shelves at the beginning of the month, I got a little misty eyed for those days of youth.
Not because I miss elementary school. I am a journalist. Journalists never leave elementary school.
I got a little nostalgic because I miss that one day where we ó as elementary school kids ó could just love everyone in the class. For just one day before we went back to spit wads and ignoring each other at recess.
And thatís when I got this idea. And Wendy is in town, so she will probably tell you that when I get an idea, it is usually out there. Kind of like the truth for the X-files team and just as off the wall.
But here is my idea.
If Walmart hasnít sold out of those valentines with super heroes or cartoon characters or the gang from Duck Dynasty on them, I am going to buy a few boxes.
And then I am going to start handing them out to everyone.
Iím not kidding. Really.
I am going to hand them out at work.
Because those people back in the press room only see me when I am walking out the door and exhausted. Oh, and I just laid a big pile of work on them when the rest of the world is sleeping.
Because our business manager, Karen Wade, saw my stress level lately and just came by my office to give me a hug.
And because giving one to Derrick Stuckly, the Bulletin sports editor, is guaranteed to cause hilarity to ensue.
But that is easy.
We usually know and, for the most part, like the people we work with. And buying a nice card and a gift for our significant others is a no-brainer.
This year, I am going to take a different approach.
After I have handed out my valentines at work and at home and to family and friends, I am going to hand them out to perfect strangers and people who wonít expect it.
The guy behind the counter who rings up my lunch? Check.
The people who stop me in Walmart and say they like my column? Iím coming for you.
Tim, who likes my food column and keeps bringing me food? Iím gonna make him some barbecue sauce as his.
Iím handing them out Tuesday at the Early City Council meeting.
And right about now is when Wendy will look over at me with that expression that implies I just crashed into Tim OíHaraís house from the planet Mars. (Google it, kids.)
Why would I do such a thing? Itís silly.
Thatís the point. I learned while teaching that if you want someone to remember something, you master the art of the absurd.
When I would give students the most ludicrous, outlandish example or scenario, they would remember the object lesson.
And I suppose my object lesson here is to remind myself that it is okay to take these built-in calendar breaks called holidays to have a little fun and remember we are all in this together.
Holidays like Valentineís Day were not made up by Hallmark Cards. I used to work at Hallmarkís corporate headquarters. I would have known.
Holidays like Valentineís Day were created by all of us to give us a reason to celebrate. Americans work hard. In fact, hereís a little tidbit courtesy of USA Today:
ďThe United States is the only developed country in the world without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. By law, every country in the European Union has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.Ē
Life is too short to not have a little bit of fun. And life is too full of challenges not to have one day where everyone feels the love.
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to shop for conversation hearts with naughty phrases.
Because I am a journalist. I never left elementary school.
Thom Hanrahan is the editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Sundays. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.