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Roses, Violets, Sugar, and Cards

Screen Shot 2018-02-15 at 7.54.23 AMIt’s Valentine’s Day. A day to send greetings to those we love. A day that the Greeting Card Association says that over a billion cards are sent, and it’s estimated that almost two hundred million roses are produced for this holiday. That’s about 17,000,000 bouquets of a dozen roses.

When I think of Valentine’s Day cards, I think of a two-line poem I first heard Dad quote when I was a child, and it was printed on some of the first mass produced cards in the mid-1800s.

Roses are red, violets are blue

Sugar is sweet and so are you.

But that’s not how the poem was first written. These lines were adapted from a rhyme published in 1784 in a collection of English nursery rhymes and read as follows:

The rose is red, the violet’s blue,

The honey’s sweet, and so are you.

Thou are my love and I am thine;

I drew thee to my Valentine.

The origins of these words can be traced back all the way to the 16th century, 1590, and were written by Sir Edmund Spenser in his epic The Faerie Queene. To describd a fair lady, he wrote, ‘She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew.’ All these years later, cards are printed with variations of the two lines about roses and violets and honey.

By the time you read this, I’m sure everyone has given and received Valentine cards. But what if you haven’t? It’s not too late. All you need is a pen or keyboard, a little time, and a willingness to put your feelings in words.

Husband and I have celebrated more that fifty Valentine’s Days. Yes, fifty! Three as college sweethearts and forty-eight as husband and wife. The cards we’ve given each other chronicle our time together. From lovey-dovey courtship days. Busyness of early marriage, each holding a job. Appreciation of love and care given to children and family. To funny verses about love lasting through the years. And we’ve exchanged gifts of flowers and candy.

I do appreciate every card, every gift, but I most remember one gift and one card. When Husband and I were college students, I was the only girl in my dormitory who received a dozen long- stemmed yellow roses. Yellow, not red, roses. No doubt the florist tried to convince Husband that red roses signify love and romance and were the perfect Valentine flower. Yellow roses represent joy and friendship. Husband knew yellow roses were my favorite flowers.

And my best-loved card didn’t cost one penny, except Husband’s time and the expense of printer ink. Not a store-bought card, but a personal card. I read this just-for-me card every Valentine’s Day and sometimes in between.

So write a card for your sweetheart. Begin with ‘Roses are red and violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you.’ You can’t go wrong with those words. They’ve been around a long time.

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When You knew it was Love

searchWhen did you know you were in love? My Facebook friends shared their stories for this column. Stories of love at first sight. Of confirmed love.

On our first date. He took me out for a nice dinner, told me I was beautiful, and made me feel like no one ever had.

I saw him leaning against a brick wall. Shades. Sullen. Looking all James Dean.

He jumped over my front porch railing and ran to me when I came home from work. I didn’t know he was on leave from the Navy.

While at a movie night at a friend’s house, he walked across the room and handed me his popcorn bowl with only half-popped kernels. He remembered my favorite popcorn.

When I saw him with his family, he was gentle, loving, and showed respect.

Coming home from a trip to Chattanooga sealed the deal. Ruby Falls is so romantic.

He kissed me in my parents’ kitchen when we were teenagers. I knew I’d marry him one day.

In 7th grade, I saw her for the first time and a lightning bolt struck. We were a parent-take-us-couple. To the movies, skating rink, a friend’s house. Then we went to different high schools, but reconnected in 10th grade. She called me on her birthday at 11:00 p.m. because her family had forgotten her birthday. That was it!

Our eyes locked across the room at our high school reunion. I’d had a crush on him in high school and he “picked” on me. I called him the day after the reunion and he sent me flowers. Three weeks later we began a long-distance courtship.

On our first date. He held my hand during the movie and walked, rather than drove, me home.

Six months into dating, we were slow dancing and the thought popped into my head, “I’m in love with this guy!” I wasn’t happy about it because I was 14 and had big plans. He went away to college and called me every Sunday afternoon. When I received a scholarship at a college close to him, I knew it was meant to be.

I heard a tiny bell chime when I first saw him. It was like heaven said, “Finally, they meet!”

When going to college badminton class wasn’t as important as going to lunch with him. I made a D in badminton.

Our wedding was only weeks away when our rescue boxer died. Phillip wrapped his body in a quilt and dug a grave at my grandparent’s farm. I realized that if I could endure such a sad time with Phillip by my side and still feel hopeful about the future, I had chosen the right partner for life.

Thank you, friends, for your mini-love stories.   I was swayed when he brought Ralph’s chocolate-covered cream-filled donuts and drove me from my college dormitory to 8:00 chemistry classes in the dead of winter. I hated early cold mornings and chemistry class. I loved Boyfriend, now Husband, and donuts. And still do.

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