Friday, January 26, 2018

Put the Personal Touch on Valentine's Day by Designing Your Own Greeting Card

Clipart image of a woman smelling a rose
"Love planted a rose, and the world turned sweet." — Katharine Lee Bates

It won't be long now before we celebrate, what is to many, that most romantic of days.  As it is every year, with the arrival of Feb. 14, there will be hearts and flowers, chocolates and champagne, dinners and movies, all intended as expressions of ardour, devotion and passion.

Valentine's Day means different things to different people, of course. Even, in some cases, what essentially translates to no meaning at all. While for many people it's an honoured occasion, a time for romance and sentimentality, there are those who feel it's all just a big excuse to get people to part with their money. Of course, too, there are folks, like me, who fall somewhere in between.

Despite a strong conviction that at heart I am an idealist, a romantic, I can be a little wishy-washy about the rituals and traditions of Feb. 14. Certainly as a youngster, the event was greeted with enthusiasm, as a plethora of little Be Mine, Valentine messages were handed out to classmates and friends.

Clipart image of a little girl kissing a little boy on the cheek
Obviously that zeal continued as an adult when experiencing the early bloom of true love and a sense that nothing can be taken for granted. Eventually, however, the acceptance of a lifelong commitment, of a comfortable, albeit, loving relationship quells some of that dewy-eyed affection. Pragmatism can even touch matters of the heart.

There are, therefore, moments when giving the Valentine's Day due consideration, that it seems just plain silly to think the purchase of a card or gift is necessary to let my favourite guy know how special he is. And is it really necessary for him to reciprocate in order for him to show he feels the same way?

Is this emotion, this passion not conveyed by married couples in small ways or grand gestures with regularity? Shouldn't there be a little bit of Valentine's Day in every relationship, if not each day, then at least with some consistency?

They questions dance through my mind until my inner Pollyanna speaks out, reminding me that while yes, we should appreciate our partner frequently and make sure they feel appreciated often, it doesn't always work that way.  Life can be crazy, chaotic and stressful. Sometimes the people we love most get shoved to the back of the line.

Clipart images of a valentine
So then, what's wrong with a little emphasis on romance? Having a day designed specifically to let someone know they're the most important thing to you sure can't hurt.

And as I've mentioned many times before, what can possibly mean more than a personal message, such as one in a handmade card? (This also eliminates the notion of the holiday being a money grab)

How nice too that the web and technology have made this so much easier. With online graphics and tutorials you are able produce a professional looking product inspired by your personal feelings.

There are many sites offering unique and diverse collections of love-inspired illustrations and others with step-by-step instructions on how to do it.  Here's a sampling I found to make the search easier:

Create Your Own Valentine's Cards

Make a Fun Valentine Card

Create a Valentine in Photoshop 

iCLIPART.com Valentine Collection

Clipart.com Valentine Images

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Vintage Valentines to Stir Memories and Recall True Love's Lasting Power

Clipart image of a vintage Valentine with a teddy bear holding a heart
"Valentine's Day is an extraordinary moment for recalling the lasting power of a true love." — M.F. Moonzajer 

At least when you're older. Having been married now for far longer than I was single, I am fortunate that I've been recalling that lasting power for some time. Every Feb. 14, for decades, I've been blessed to celebrate this most romantic of all days with the same special person. To bask in the pleasures of an adult relationship with your best friend, your soulmate, your love is a gift worthy of celebration.

However,  as a child, the expressions of affection were doled out each Valentine's Day with indiscriminate purpose. While it's been ages since I've had to worry about a mass mailing of Valentine's Day greetings, those times remain indelible memories. And while having a partner with whom to share the day is the best, the ritual, the excitement of anticipation from those long ago days are often recalled in bits and pieces with nostalgic softness.

There were those early elementary school days of preparation, secrecy and giggles. The fun then began weeks ahead with the creation of special containers in which classmates would furtively deposit their messages to each other. How elaborate these were depended less on the talent of the students it seemed,  than it did on the enthusiasm of the teacher. Sometimes it was as simple as a decorated box, but I do recall making a rather intricate mailbox once, guided by a particularly artsy educator.

Clipart image of a vintage Be Mine Valentine message
Next there was much time devoted to ensuring the message was right for each person.  The wise teachers stopped any hurt feelings, insisting that students not exclude any child from their list, which could put charity to the test when you considered that nasty boy who relentlessly teased you during recess.  Somehow asking him to "Be Mine" or even saying "Hi Valentine" was a little strange. Of course, in the interesting ways of children,  this same boy was usually the one whose Valentine to you read 'From Your Secret Admirer".

There came a point, however, probably around the age of double digits, when no matter what the teacher decided for us, we were going to be a little more selective about who would receive our admissions of affection.  Typically it was the people closest to us who were the recipients, and generally only those of like gender. No risk that way of any embarrassing misunderstanding.

Clipart image of a vintage Valentine with a train
Of course, we can't forget the actual greetings themselves, cute little messages with sweet plays on words and charming characters. For anyone interested in a touch of nostalgia this Feb. 14, here's a vintage collection of illustrations that is sure to take you back:

iCLIPART.com Vintage Valentines

By the time we had reached adolescence though, there was generally just one person we called our Valentine.  He or she, and he or she alone, would be the one on whom the words of love and devotion were bestowed, to whom the gifts and treats would be delivered.  It's the pattern that holds through future relationships.

Whether the childhood sweetheart or a later-discovered mate has helped you recall the lasting power of true love, Feb. 14 is the perfect time to let them know how much better your life is for having them in it.