“How about these?” I asked Chase as we stood in front of a wall of red, pink and purple hearts on Saturday.

We were at A.C. Moore, along with the rest of humanity, to gather materials to create Valentines Day cards for Chase’s class party today.  Despite substantial advances in education over the last three decades,  the Valentine’s Day Party has prevailed over the years, largely in tact.

There have been a few societal modifications.  On the positive side, the students are required encouraged to give a valentine to every child in their class.  This is a significant improvement from when I was a little girl and schools were completely numb to issues of popularity and bullying.  Sure it takes away the anticipation of whether you are going to get a card from your secret crush or not, but eliminates the actual crush when you don’t.  The other significant change is the unwritten/unspoken requirement that you attach some sort of candy or small useless token to each Valentine’s Day card.  A simple cut-out card will not cut it these days, that’s for sure.  Just remember, nothing says I love you like a Kit Kat or 3-D tattoo of an alien.

This is our very last year participating in the grade school party so when Chase told me he wanted to make his cards, as opposed to buy them from the CVS, I chose to embrace his initiative.  As the end of this parental era approaches, it feels like the last few reps at the end of a long workout.  You know you have just seconds left to give it your all.  So there we were, giving it our all at A.C. Moore, discussing the merits of heart stickers, silver glitter and foam backing.

But there was one problem.  Chase wasn’t remotely interested in hearts, foam, glitter or stickers.  For every crafty option I pointed out, I got “nah” or “nope” or “no” or “uh-uh” or “are you crazy?!?”  Perhaps I was, because clearly all of my ideas failed to capture Chase’s vision for an appropriate Valentine’s Day message to two dozen eleven year olds.

All, that is, except one.

Once it became clear that Chase was looking for something out of the box, I deftly led him over to the one display I know he would take to immediately.

Duct Tape.

I’m not sure when duct tape became “crafty” but in the last few months, designer duct tape has been showing up at all the cool craft stores.  Having just come off an excellent Hanukah-driven duct tape run with the book Ductigami, Chase knew this was his answer.  We bought four rolls – red and silver for the girls and flames and yellow for the boys.  He could make his Valentines and keep his balls at the same time.

We set to work as soon as we arrived home.  I ripped and cut; Chase assembled.  He was careful to make the cards wrinkle free – not an easy task with duct tape — but the effort was admirable.   The result wasn’t a stack of the most glamorous homemade Valentine’s Day cards, but they were totally original and 100 percent Chase. A mini Hershey bar will greet the recipient upon opening his or her card, fulfilling the childhood obesity contributor treat requirement.  These had to be the manliest fifth grade Valentine’s Day cards ever conceived.  I’m not sure who was more proud, me or my kid.

As I reflected on our successful mission I couldn’t help but think about the metaphor he had created.  Participating for the final year in a tradition that will most likely outlive us all, Chase unknowingly conveyed what Valentine’s Day is all about.  Love isn’t about goopy glitter or big foam hearts.  Nor is it something fancy or expensive to display for all to see.  Love, in fact, is more like duct tape.  It holds everything together when all else fails. It is reliable, sturdy, and can fix almost anything in a bind.  And while it’s tough to keep it wrinkle free, once it sticks to you, it’s pretty darn hard to remove.

Happy Valentine’s Day, MoB readers.  On this day of love and friendship, may you all be covered in duct tape – the stickier, the better.

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