K. D. McCrite

K.D. McCrite grew up on an Ozark Mountain farm along an old dirt road, just like April Grace Reilly in In Front of God and Everybody. She loves writing stories that make people laugh and think. For a while, she worked as a librarian, but these days she sits at her desk and makes up stories. Her second book to this series, Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks, released in December 2011. The third book in the series will be released in the fall of 2012. Visit her at http://kdmccrite.com/

K. D. McCrite

Paper Hearts and Crushes

When the cold wind of February sweeps across the land, I can’t help but think about Valentine’s Day.

The first valentines I received came from my mom. She made them all by hand, and they were beautiful. She used paper doilies, ribbon, and red paper. Sometimes she’d cut out pictures of birds or flowers from old greeting cards or out of magazines and glue them on, but my mom was an artist. She often drew the pictures and filled them in with colored pencils. I loved those cards more than if she’d bought them at the store.

Once I started school, valentines came from my classmates. We’d have a party with cookies or cupcakes and red Kool-Aid, then we opened our specially decorated red and white boxes and read all the little cards we gave to one another. Those cards have changed very little over the years. They still have cute cartoons on the front that say things like, “Be my Valentine” or “It’s true, it’s true, all the birds love you.” Our teachers always handed out tiny candy hearts with words of affection on them.

I’ll share a secret with you: I have always been a bit romantic. I developed my first crush in first grade, and I liked that boy all the way through school right up until I graduated my senior year. (He never knew it.) But he wasn’t the only boy I liked, not by a long shot! In second grade all the girls liked Darryl. He was rather short and stout, and he had white-blond hair. One day we chased him all over the playground, and when we caught him, we kissed him . . . every last one of us. In the fourth grade I liked Dennis and Billy, who each liked me sometimes, and sometimes not. In eighth grade, I liked the twins Richard and Robert and their friend Steve. I just never knew which one I liked the most.

Then in ninth grade, there was Victor. He was tall and thin with dark hair and the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. And Paul, who was short and heavy with curly light brown hair and the sweetest smile. Then Victor again. I developed a mad crush on Dean, who was blond-haired, blue-eyed, wore glasses, and never knew I was alive. I mustn’t forget Keith, a new boy who was funny, artistic, and musical. And then for three long years, no one; not even a crush. By then, boys wanted to go out to the movies or a sporting event, to get something to eat or just hang around with friends. But my daddy refused to let me date, so pretty soon I stopped being asked out.

In college, my romantic turn of mind remained. I liked Bill, Paul, Salty, Don, and Jim, but I was shy and much of that romance stayed quietly hidden in my heart. For a short time I was engaged to David, but he seemed too much like an old man in a young man’s body and wasn’t much fun for a girl of nineteen.

Years later, when I was all grown up and working in the library in our small town, a very handsome young man came in. He had dark hair and dark eyes, and he was courteous and intelligent. I liked him. I liked him a lot. So I made an effort to be extra friendly to him: I asked about his family and the town where he used to live; we talked about books and writers. I did everything I could think of to let him know I wanted to go out with him and get to know him better, but he just never took the hint.

One day I thought, “Enough of this!”

You know what I did? I asked him out. He blinked real hard, stared at me, then grinned great big and said, “Sure!”

We were married less than a year later.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, think about all the loves in your life: your parents, your friends, your spouse, and children. Most of all, don’t forget the One who loves us the most. Without Him, Valentine’s Day would be nothing but paper hearts and candy.


Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks