When I asked the wee cooks at the Bon Vivant Budding Chefs cooking class what first came to their minds when they consider the month of February, it was a no-brainer: “Valentine’s Day!” was the chorus that sang out from those smiling, flour-powdered faces.
It appears that marketers have done their job well. Valentine’s Day – and its sugary sentiment – is entrenched in the hearts of our tender youths. Sugar you say? How about US$1.76 billion of it purchased for the day? Ah, but candy, especially those lovely, oh-so-enticing boxes of chocolate hearts, are but a drop in the basket of the US$19.7 billion spent last year on our hearts’ desires.
According to the website fundivo.com, which has taken the time to divvy up the cost of this fun-loving day, jewellery tops the list at US$4.5 billion, followed by an evening out with your loved one for US$4.4 billion. Flowers come in at a modest US$1.98 billion – but hey, do women want a daisy or a diamond? Cards, the low face on the totem pole, cost consumers last year a measly US$1.14 billion.
Should we despair that marketing has sapped the true sentiment from the day, we need only listen to a child to remind us that it is not the gift, but the giver whose heart touches us and who can put the delight in the day.
When asked who their valentine was, there was no hesitation from these 9- to 11-year-old chefs.
Which brings me back to the delightful wee Bon Vivant cooks. When asked who their valentine was, there was no hesitation from these 9- to 11-year-old chefs who had just whipped up a fine chicken-salad-stuffed puff pastry. Their first response was that they “didn’t actually have a valentine,” which left this listener wondering just what the definition of a valentine might be. Apparently it had something to do with romance, and romance (to quell a parent’s fears) was not yet in the air. What was in that pastry-scented atmosphere instead was, quite simply, something in their hearts.
For Ellen, 11 years old, and Daniella, 10, it was Dad who won their hearts. One dad would get chocolate and cheese and another could expect his favourite Reese’s Pieces with a bow and a card.
Nine-year-old Hailey chose her sister Sophie, and 10-year-old Sophie closed the circle by choosing Hailey.
Natalia, 10, nominated her pals, as did Amelia, 9, who chose her P.J. gang, a gaggle of girls who love sleepovers, to get her valentines.
For 9-year-old Sienna, it was her grandpa, who was born on Valentine’s Day, in South Africa who was in her heart.
Evan, 11, wanted his cousin in Canada to get his valentine. When Daniella, on second thought, wanted to include her dog Rosie the boxer, Evan decided that his Cayman mutt, Buji, could be added to his list, too. Rosie the boxer would get a bone and a stuffy. Happily for Daniella’s dad, the Reese’s Pieces were still in the plan. Bow and card – and love – included.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.” Next month Faye will ask children to give us their views on vegetables.