The day is here. Everything is red hearts and pink hearts and roses and chocolates and Sweethearts Conversation hearts.
All things I can do without.
Well, maybe except for the conversation hearts. I used to think those things had some kind of “Magic Eight Ball” foretelling ability. And we all know the M8B knew…..
I remember the year we made a Valentine’s Day card holder when I was in elementary school. It was two huge hearts–I think mine were blue, very telling–glued together around the edges, leaving the top open. For some reason, we used paper folded accordion style for arms and legs and I drew a face on the heart.
I don’t remember all the cards I got over the years, but I do remember obsessing over how the card was signed–“Did he write “Love, Me” or just “Me,” and did he add a smiley face or not? Was it one of the regular-sized cards in the box or was it one of the rarer super-sized ones? I think I was finally over V Day when, in high school, they did the big carnation sale. At least I think that was on Valentine’s. What a day. There was the girl who ended the day with several carnations, some from her “BFF’s” and even more from boys who hoped to win her heart.
And then there were those of us who left for home carrying only our books and a little heavier hearts.
I’m fine really, but the pressure of the day…..It was way back then that I pretty much wrote off the day. I’d much rather do what one of my aunts does and just give you something when the mood strikes me, and not when Kay and Hallmark and Helzburg and Ferrero Roche tell me I have to.
There was one year that was special though. I don’t know why or what for, but Daddy had found himself at the Wal-Mart. This was over twenty-five years ago. I can’t imagine what need took him there–a ball of twine? Duct tape? A case of oil? Anyway, when he came home, he handed each of us girls a small, clear plastic ball that had a pair of (I think) knee highs in them, and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” (No exclamation point there, it took a lot for his voice to rise, and usually it wasn’t good.)
Mine were lavender.
And I don’t think I ever wore them.
They were a treasure, you see, unexpected as they were, and from my most favorite guy ever.
Cooter was due at the end of February in 2007. Since our Princess had been two weeks early, I figured he would be born on Valentine’s Day. I joked–“Valentina for a girl, Valentino for a boy.” It was a reasonable assumption. Instead he was two and half weeks early and born on the 10th. As we were spending our last night in the hospital, our night nurse, Miss Suzette, came in to weigh him. She held him close and looked at his sweet face with the tenderest of expressions. “He can have a Valentine’s themed birthday.” In those moments she saw this little baby, my first boy, grow up before her eyes–something I wasn’t able to do yet, but the love in her eyes touched me, and I still remember being teary-eyed as we said goodbye.
Seventeen years ago, I spent Valentine’s Day morning at a Scrapbooking workshop. (I was a really awesome scrapbooker for about a year or so–Aub has six months of her life in one to prove it. *sigh*) When I got back to Mama’s to pick up my little two-year old, Mama stopped me at the back door. Daddy’s vehicle wasn’t there. She told me the heartbreaking news. My Granny, whom I adored and loved and still miss so much, had died.
She’d been sick, yes. But still.
She was in a better place. Oh, don’t I know it. Celebrating with the great love of her life. But still.
She had lived a long life. Yeah, I guess. But still.
Daddy had gone to her house. To do what a child does when his/her parent dies.
As I think about Valentine’s Day, and how it is supposed to be all about love, I look back over this patchwork quilt of motley memories from this same day in the years past. And I see LOVE written all over them.
Oh, not that the advertisers would recognize it–there’s no chocolate or diamonds or vase full of flowers. (Not even ONE carnation, people, not even one.)
But there’s LOVE. Of a stranger for a child she’d likely never meet again. Of a teacher who helped each one of her students create and design and feel special on a day that could very well have one or more feeling left out. Of a Daddy spending a dollar apiece to show his infinite love to his children. Of a son for his mother. Of a Mama for her daughter. Of a Mama for her son.
Love that lasts a lifetime and not just one day. Or season.
So if I’m not wearing red tomorrow, but have on my shirt with hearts in April, maybe you will understand. If I shy away from all the “love” posts on social media or roll my eyes at the commercials that are intended to make you feel “less than” if you aren’t giving your love “this” or “that,” don’t be surprised. If you ask me what the Fella and I are doing for supper on Valentine’s and I reply “heat up leftovers and watch ‘Worst Cooks in America’ or ‘Chopped’ with the littles” with a great big smile on my face, please don’t think me callous. Or unromantic.
In the words of Bob Goff, “Love does.”
In the words of Hugh Hollowell, “Love wins.”
In the words of Jesus, “Love is patient and kind…..”
In the words of my heart, “Love is not for a day or a season, it’s for always. And for all. Period. The end.”
So yes, I’ll celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. Same as I try to do every other day.
With a smile, a hug, hanging out with the ones whom I love most, and sharing the journey. Doing and winning and loving.
May your day be just what you need it to be. Make it yours.
Love to all.