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Reflective Moments: Roses are red and there’s love in every word

Joyce Walter recalls exchanging cards at school on Valentine's Day
roses stock photo
Roses (Shutterstock)

Anyone who went to a one-room school in a small town will have fond or not-so-fond memories of the Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day parties we held, with the permission of our parents, the school board, our teachers, in fact the full community.

The entire afternoon of that day, or one closest to it, would be devoted to a variety of games, songs, homemade lunch, and then the much anticipated exchange of Valentine’s cards — not of Hallmark status certainly, but still of significance in our young lives.

One of our teachers had a rule: each student must provide a greeting card for every other student in the school. There would be no one left out to wonder why he or she didn’t receive a card.

At my house, we bought the booklets that came with cards and envelopes, usually 25 or 30 to a book, just enough for all my school mates to be remembered. I painstakingly wrote the recipients’ names plus my own name on each card, carefully removed them from the book then addressed the envelopes and sealed them, all ready to be taken to school.

When the distribution moment arrived, we lined up and went up and down the aisles, giving out our cards then returning to our desks to open the best mail day since last year’s Feb. 14 party.

When teachers changed, the rules changed and in the Grade 5-6 rows, we were no longer obligated to give cards to every student. Those parties were not nearly as much fun and lunch became the main attraction — heart-shaped cookies and cake, salmon sandwiches cut with heart-shaped cutters, packets of those spicy hot red cinnamon hearts.

Despite the new rule, I always gave cards to everyone, teacher included, and sometimes the verses were mushy, and sometimes not so mushy for fear of sending the wrong message. In Grade 5 we couldn’t figure out why the teacher and adults were so concerned about the content of our verses.

If the Internet had existed in our town back then, those adults would have been horrified to see how the simple Roses are Red verses could have become so creepy — and so unfriendly.

Mr. Stewart, Mrs. Peterson, Mrs. Gamble and Mrs. Lawson would, I hope, have nodded in approval with my following verses:

“Roses are red
violets are blue
just wanted you to know
I’m in love with you.”

“Roses are red
pickles are green
please love me my dear
and put my clothes in the washing machine.”

“Roses are pink
lilies are white
love me today,
tomorrow and tonight.”

“Carrots are orange
asparagus is green
you’re the nicest person
this world has ever seen.”

“Roses are mostly red
my rhyming brain is fried.
I’d buy you milk chocolates
but they aren’t in the food guide.”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Moose Jaw Today, the Moose Jaw Express, its management, or its subsidiaries.

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