It's taken four years, but the Winter Olympics have finally rolled around again. They're interesting, but most people I know have a hard time personally relating to them. That's because so few of us have ever participated in anything like them.
For instance, growing up, many of us probably played soccer, football or baseball. That familiarity makes it easy to relate to these sports. But how many of us have tried figure skating, sliding on a luge or a biathlon (that ski-and-rifle shooting event)? Regarding the latter, I honestly don't know how you could train for that without getting arrested.
Whatever the event, it's no secret athletes train constantly to compete. The cost of training, plus the expense of getting to the games, is daunting.
Now, consider this. Suppose you tried for years and were finally chosen to go! You went and competed. Then, even though you did really well, they refused to give you a medal.
This may seem like a stretch but that's exactly what just happened to the Girl Scouts. Similar to countless organizations, they competed to be featured on a commemorative U.S. coin. If chosen for the rare honor, they could receive a chunk of the money collected from coin sales. What a deal! The good part: They were selected! The bad: They got no money.
It's not that the Mint ran out of money; the problem was the sales of the coins fell short. In the agreement, it states that the commemorated entity won't receive money if "surcharge payments due to program costs (aren't) recovered."
So, in fairness, the Mint isn't the bad guy here. Once they were selected to be featured on a coin, the Girl Scouts understood enough of them needed to be sold to cover minting and production costs. Of the 350,000 silver coins minted, less than half were sold. (For the record, the 2010 Boy Scout commemorative coin sold out in four months.)
It all goes to marketing and competition — something I thought the Girl Scouts had in the bag. I mean, even the Keebler elves go down in flames compared to the cookie-selling juggernaut that is the Girl Scouts. And maybe those sales will help make up for what they could have made on the coins. Thanks to the Olympian efforts of Lindsay down the street, my order for Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos is in. With those on the way, I consider myself a winner — though far from in Olympic shape.
Also falling at the same time as the Olympic games is Valentine's Day. It doesn't quite compare to Mother's Day insofar as mail volume but letters aplenty are sent on that day.
I remember well making mailboxes out of shoeboxes in grade school. We decorated them, put them on a shelf in the classroom and made Valentine's cards for everyone in the class. We then distributed them in all the mailboxes.
The most impressive cards were, of course, those that were handmade. A few girls created some impressive ones. Those may be the inspiration behind the "LOVE" stamp just released by the U.S. Postal Service. It features a cut-paper Valentine featuring a heart with a decorative cut-edge border, just like the ones made with scissors. Thankfully, it's far more professional than our grade-school efforts.
The stamp is being released in limited edition and will be only available until supplies run out. They are in many larger post offices now and first day of issue cancels are available for the next month.
To obtain a special cancel on the "LOVE" stamp, purchase one at a local post office and affix it to a self-addressed envelope. Send this inside of a larger mailing envelope to: Love: Cut Paper Heart Stamp, 380 West 33rd Street, Room 4032, New York, NY 10199-9998.
There's no charge for the cancel but all requests must be made NO later than March 21, 2014. Canceled envelopes will be returned through regular mail.
Editor's Note: A JPEG visual of the Girl Scout Commemorative Silver Dollar has been sent with this column.
To find out more about Peter Rexford and features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.