VALENTINE’S DAY NOT SO SWEET

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Do you remember a time when Valentine’s Day was about young, sweet flirtations and chock full of excitement? And speaking of chalk…those dreadful tasting candy hearts were SUCH a hit. He gave me, “Be Mine!” Or better still, He thinks I’m a “Cutie Pie!” Ah, so creative, so deep, sheer poetry at its best!

And do you remember making Valentine mailboxes out of your dad’s big-footed shoe box, so your loving suitors could cram bountiful love letters and joke cards into it? Then ever-so- carefully, you covered your romantic, dowry trunk with red and pink construction paper hearts and lacy doilies with thick white paste – the very glue that one kid in first grade secretly ate off the stick whenever the teacher faced the chalkboard – and if memory is accurate, the paste (and the boy) smelled like peppermint.

When I was in second grade, another boy even cut off his ponytail and put it in my Valentine’s box. I know many of you are thinking, “Oooh!” But it was this boy’s kind gesture which first taught me about crushes. Looking back, I hope his mother didn’t freak out when he came home from school missing his hair, but I digress…

Now as adults who have been brained washed by mass marketing and societal pressures, Valentine’s Day has morphed into elegant dinners, aromatic bouquets of crimson roses, shiny heart-shaped boxes of fine chocolates the size of your head, and diamonds…oh, yes, the diamonds! But do we really know how and why this beautiful holiday for lovers came to be?

I went to my most reliable source on the internet, Almost-the-Truth-Apedia, and searched for the history of Valentine’s Day. Now if you are faint of heart, or can’t talk about lab dissections at the dinner table, you might not want to research this topic. I would like to summarize what I learned, so you can see how far our demonstrations of love have come over the ages.

Valentine’s Day started as a darling, little Pagan holiday called Lupercalia. This Roman festival held in February always began with an animal sacrifice; thereafter, the men would remove the animals’ skin and then slap young women with bloody, skin strips. (I did not make this part up!) This was to protect their women from curses and increase fertility. Charming.

In third century A.D., the Roman Emperor Claudius II decided all this festival love stuff had to go, and banished the Pagan festival, and also all future marriages and engagements. He felt his army would be more aggressive if they weren’t homesick for loved ones.

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However, a priest named Father Valentine ignored the Emperor’s rulings and secretly married young lovers. This occurred until the Emperor found out and threw Ft. Valentine in jail. Of course, the priest fell in love with the prison guard’s daughter, and on the day of his execution, February the 14th, he passed a note to his beloved, which read something like…

“Sorry about the beheading… I think you’re great… Signed, Your Valentine.”

After a commercial break, someone high-up in the church felt bad about killing Father Valentine, so they declared him a Saint, which was a pretty good way to make up to his family for the head-chopping incident. Yet, it’s the same old adage: Take a life, a touch of remorse, and then make amends by dedicating a statue to them. Get it right the first time, perhaps?

So as you are picking out the perfect gift for your love, my advice is you might want to steer clear of the whole Roman tradition; and if diamonds aren’t in your budget, a jar of that sweet, peppermint glue could take your beloved back to a time when people really knew how to woo and pursue!

Be still my candy heart!

(previously published in The Kansas City Star newspaper February 2010)

Time to Get Your Love a Wooden Watch

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(This post is sponsored by JORD watches. I received a watch from them in return for my honest feedback. I cannot and will not be swayed by jewelry.)

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and once again I’m unprepared. It sneaks up on me every year and I’m lucky if I get my hubby a card. (Note to self, add buying a card on my to-do list.)

I blame my laziness weariness on Christmas. That whole 2-month festival wears me out. By February, I’m certainly not wanting to lift a finger to hit my Amazon-1-Click button. If it weren’t for the munchkins asking me what I want for my birthday, which is a couple days before, then I’d never get the job done and have to make up a last minute gift.

Hello Dear, could I interest you in a lovely home-cooked meal or some romantic laundered clothing? A Skinny Cow ice-cream sandwich, perhaps?

Yeah, it gets all heated up at the Hattons!

Several months ago, during the whirlwind winter season of excessive retail, I was propositioned by a man in the jewelry business. Despite previous comments, I am a happily married woman. But Ladies, when this happens, you must stop and listen because…

Jewelry! Am I right?!

Thankfully, this gentleman was working for JORD watches. Never heard of it? Me neither, but let me tell you this line is unique and breathtakingly beautiful. I honestly have never seen anything like it.

They sell wooden watches. Wooden. Wrist. Watches! Why I neh-vah!

JORD’s website says they use several types of “natural and sustainably sourced wood” when crafting their watches: including maple, sandalwood, bamboo, blackwood, and cherry. They use only 100% natural wood and refrain from the use of toxic chemicals to either treat or protect the wood. Not only do they sell women’s watches, but they have a cool line of men’s watches too.

I went with the maple and it’s gorgeous. It’s light weight, has smooth edges and a natural looking finish so it isn’t all shiny, but elegant. This watch is extremely comfortable and I feel like I’m wearing Scrabble tiles caressing my wrist. It’s just another reminder to pull out my phone and play Words With Friends. Not that I have a problem with it.

I wanted to have beautiful photos of my watch, but my nails are of the brittle persuasion, and was feeling insecure about my mannish wrist. So I “hired” a semi-professional hand model for the photo shoot of my new watch. Actually, a couple of the neighborhood gals voted on who had the nicest hands and possibly a manicure that wasn’t chipped. She drew the short straw, but now she can put hand-model on her resume. You’re welcome!

Work it Hand Model, work it.

Work it Hand Model, work it.

I’m allergic to nickel, which is added to most silver, so metal clasps give me a bit of hesitation, but JORD uses stainless steel clasps, to avoid many metal sensitivities. Of course if you are allergic to stainless steel, you might need to have a sundial carved for your wrist.

Since wood is porous, the watch could be more prone to dirt and oil. But they have a recipe for cleaning and protecting your gorgeous timepiece.

This company is out of St. Louis, but they DO ship internationally, for all you folks across the pond. Each watch is shipped to the customer “within 24 hours via 1-3 day priority shipping through USPS.” If the watch you want is out of stock, they will notify you in a day.

So if you have a loved one who has EVERYTHING, this is the perfect gift for him or her. It will be the gift that no one has and is quite the conversation starter.

To learn more about JORD watches, head to www.woodwatches.com.