When I was a little girl I always looked forward to Valentine’s Day. It was always fun to pick out the Valentine’s I wanted to give to my classmates and address them all. When I was in elementary school we decorated a box so we could all get our Valentine’s delivered. Sometimes there would be one that wasn’t signed and you always wondered was that from a shy boy or someone who just forgot to add their name. No matter really—it was always nice to know someone, even an anonymous someone, cared enough to send me a Valentine.

My Mom and Dad always gave my sister and I a Valentine and sometimes a chocolate treat. Rarely was there anything else. When I created Build-A-Bear Workshop the childhood holidays I loved were a part of what we created to sell at Build-A-Bear Workshop. I am not sure why I feel this way but I think if Build-A-Bear Workshop existed when I was a child my parents would have made me a stuffed animal with a heart tee shirt or a special Valentine’s themed dress. My Mom would have loved Build-A-Bear Workshop. She loved crafts and fashion and she would have found the clothes we make for our furry friends a delight.

Valentine’s is one of those fun holidays. Yes, it suggests love or BEARY special friendship. It is a huge “Hallmark” holiday and a big event at our company too because people more than ever want to find a fun way to say, “ I like you, “ “I care about you,” or yes, “I Love You.” A stuffed animal is a soft and cuddly way to say these things—meaningful but not so serious that it is a lifetime commitment. Memorable, but light hearted. Smile making!

Another fond childhood memory I have is from the 6th grade. My friend Joan had a Valentine’s party. I remember picking out my best outfit to wear. I felt so grown up! On the sliding glass doors she had pasted 2 huge hearts for a photo-op background. I still have the picture they took that night—one of me and Mike heart throb of that moment. Lucky for me, Mike and I are still friends and I have more than that picture to remind me of that special night and our very long friendship some 49 years later. The best part about the picture is it captured that moment of innocence for me to look back on as an adult and best of all to appreciate. I was so happy that night—life was perfect. Being 11 is not easy back when I was 11 or today but there are lots of moments to remember and smile about and if you are 11 today, even if life seems very hard to manage with school and friends stop and savor the good times so you will remember them for the future.

Valentine's Day-1961 Maxine and Mike

At 11 you feel everything 100 x over. Sometimes I will pull out my diary and read what life was like on the exact date some 30, 40 or 50 years ago. My diary was an honest record of what I was feeling or hoping for so when I read it now it amazes me how serious I was back then and how worried about the littlest detail. Everything seemed so important! It was like the world revolved around me and my “issues.” I learned soon enough that it didn’t. I grew up and found out that life goes on and gets better and better.

I am still connected to my hometown through friends and teachers. My roots are deep and keep me grounded. Just like this picture of Mike and me about 12 years ago at one of our high school reunions. Still friends after all these years. We both have lifelong Valentine’s now—I have Bob and he has Niedra and we all enjoy being together too. How lucky we are to have created a basis for love and friendship so young that has lasted us a lifetime!

Maxine and Mike CGHS '67 Reunion 1997

Happy Valentine’s to all.


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5 Responses to “LOVE. HUGS. SMILES.”

  1. Savannah Says:

    Hey Maxine,

    Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.

    It’s Savannah… which i wanted your autograph… and you sent me the bear! It’s me! :):):)

    So happy to chat with you.

    Love. Hugs. And prayers

  2. ~@ Savannah @~ Says:

    ‘Yes, yes, yes!`

    Check out my smiley face happy-land!

    Smiley-Face Happy-Land!
    @__@ !_! ~_~ 0_0 *_* =) +__+ $_$ ^_^

    and, also, items made out of… keys on keyboard

    0o0 Hairbow ) Ear () Eye 00 Pig nose

    !!!!!!!!! Wood fence ^^^ Mountains (+….+) Snowman head -______- Sleeping giant [] Box U Horse Shoe

    Hope ya like’em

  3. Jamie (yes I'm a girl) Says:

    Ooh, I need to change my avatar, my sister did it. Sure Twilight is cool, but I’m not that into it. Oh, now I’m all squeezy fur when I go into grade 6 this Septembear. Just gotta keep my bears tight and get through all the girl and boy drama! 🙂

  4. Robertson Adams Says:

    Maxine — This is Robertson, son of Marlene. I have sad news to relay, that she passed away last Friday (July 12, 2013) in Miami at the age of 73 after a fight with diabetes and heart disease. She leaves behind her partner of 16 years Lee S., and two sons and three grandchildren. She was proud of you and everybody in our family followed your success and how you created happiness for so many people. Go Cavaliers!

    • maxineclark Says:

      I am so sorry to hear of your personal loss and our mutual loss. She was an amazing and spirited person who changed my life dramatically. I will always love her and continue to tell the story of how she impacted me and so many others in more ways than she could ever have known. She will be missed. Please let me know about any memorial services.
      Maxine Clark

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