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Yooper Valentines are something special

Karen Wils photo Above are some favorite homemade Valentines.

ESCANABA — Yooper Valentines come in many shapes and forms.

“I love you” written in the snow is one of the most common and most romantic.

A heart-shaped pasty, slightly red with catsup means true love. Homemade heart-shaped cakes and cookies are a sweet way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day too.

A paper or cardboard Valentine colored and cut out by a child is a gift to cherish for years.

People have been exchanging Valentine’s greetings with small tokens of affection or hand written notes dating back to the 18th century.

By the 1900s printed cards began to replace homemade ones, but creative Yoopers still often favor homemade ways to show their love.

Some of the early printed Valentines are collectors’ items now. They look so Victorian and feminine depicting cupids and lots of lace.

When I was in grade school, Valentine’s Day meant school work in the morning and party time in the afternoon. Days before, we all brought in old shoe boxes and got to decorate them with hearts cut out of colored construction paper and stuck on with old fashioned paste.

A slot was cut into the top of the box to make it into a mailbox to collect all of our Valentines. Everybody gave everybody else in class a Valentine. (Thirty kids was the class size back then.)

If you were really lucky, the Valentine envelope contained a sucker or a stick of gum.

My mom and dad spent over 50 years together sharing Valentines. In their early years they’d pick out silly Valentines with chimpanzees on them for each other.

I guess that was how they expressed that they were a little “bananas” for each other.

Dad was a very skilled wood worker. He often cut out heart-shaped Valentine decorations with his band saw. The year my husband and I were dating, Dad created a Valentine plaque for Mom and one for me to give to David. I painted a buck deer on David’s, one of the things he loves.

My sister still has a pink, crocheted doily that my Grandma Rose made. It is still taken out to accent the table in February.

I have a little box of special Yooper Valentines that I have collected over the years. The ones dating back to when the kids were just learning how to write are the greatest. “I love you Mommy” written by a first-grader is a keeper.

Create a Yooper Valentine this weekend. Use snow, ice, cookie dough, paper, yarn or whatever you have.

It does not matter if you buy Valentines or make them; it’s the thought that counts. Our world needs all the love it can get right now.

Happy Valentine’s Day wishes to all of you!

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Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.

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