Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day

I've never placed a lot of importance on Valentines Day. I think of it as one of those "made up for the card companies" holidays. I think the thing I've liked best about the day over the years is the fun of all those goofy packages of "school" valentines. I have fond memories of decorating a frilly shoe box when I was a child, turning it into my classroom mailbox. I loved all the silly cards my kids made and received, dragging them to and bringing them home from Valentine's Day parties, each name carefully signed in awkward, unevenly sized, newly learned letters.

I also remember the year I bought my son Joe a "boyish" Valentine. He was about five years old I guess, and I thought he might object to the more traditional lace and hearts type of card. He ripped it out of the envelope excitedly, looked at the cover, looked inside it, and then burst into tears. When I asked him what was wrong he choked out between sobs that it wasn't a REAL Valentine because it didn't have... you guessed it.... lace and hearts on it. I never made the mistake again and made sure after that I only gave him REAL Valentines.

I remember the first Valentine's Day after Joshua died. I was trying not to think about what day it was, I wasn't in the mood for happy or lovey or sweet. Life didn't seem particularly sweet just yet. Mostly I was trying to keep busy and get through the day without thinking at all and for that purpose I decided to sort out a stack of old books that had been sitting around for awhile. Holding one book up, none too carefully, something fell out from inside it and dropped to my lap. It was an old Valentine's card of construction paper and crayon that had laid forgotten inside the pages for a decade and a half. Strange shapes that might have been hearts were drawn on it, clustered around the words "HapPy VaLentiNEs dAy". I opened it up and inside it read "I LovE YoU - JOsHua".

But mostly, I don't remember Valentine's Days gone past or make a big deal out of it when it rolls around each year. Despite my indifference, I've always been treated to cards, phone calls, perhaps flowers or some other symbol of affection. I've always had people in my life that not only love me, but take the time to let me know it.

I went out for a walk in the rain a few days ago and took the photo you see above. It made me sad. It was undoubtedly a teenager's empty candy box - a defiant act of "watch me litter 'cuz it's all about me" while walking home from school. But looking down at it tossed on a sidewalk, it reminded me that Valentine's Day was just around the corner and for a lot of people, there are no flowers or cards or words of affection. Perhaps there are no people in their world to love them. Maybe just this one year, maybe never. Some people's hearts aren't filled with chocolate. Some people's hearts get left out in the rain.

It made me realize that, for me, feeling loved is something that happens not just on one or two days of the year, but every single day. I wake up each morning knowing that someone, maybe even half a dozen someones, will tell me they love me. I'll tell them I love them too. A day set aside to express our love for each other - in my world it's like the need for a Happy Breathing Air Day. Or a Happy Cup of Coffee Day. Or how about Happy Drive My Car Day. Valentine's Day is no big deal for me. I am blessed, unceasingly blessed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never placed a lot of importance on Valentine's Day either. This year, though, it's different because it's glaringly obvious to me that I'm alone for the first time in many years. I'm okay with that, but it's just weird. I'll spend the evening with Dylan and we'll make cookies and it will be a good day, though. :-)

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, don't forget your WONDERFUL hubby, who gave you FOUR Valentines (two of which you especially liked), coffee in bed, a red rose, a balloon, and of course, lunch at our local Italian restaurant! Kisses and hugs, Jeff. OOOXXXOOOXXX!!!

11:23 AM  
Blogger plongstocking said...

I'm a day late, but I loved your story about the ottoman. and what a good looking piece of furniture! gave me a good laugh. thanks!

4:03 PM  

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