By Sandra Dempsey Post
As one who appreciates thorough explanations, even I was surprised at how much Wikipedia says about Valentine’s Day. They detail religious significance, developments and changes throughout the decades, the secular impact, and suggestions for today’s participation. Google takes a briefer creative approach explaining, “At the heart of each Valentine’s Day, there’s one unifying emotion that always sticks around year after year: love!” It’s not like I’m unfamiliar with the lovely holiday on February 14th, I know about it and love celebrating it. Like most people, I’m influenced by previous knowledge and experiences. These many years later, it’s nice to look a little deeper into the day known for red decor, roses, cards that show up on store shelves so very soon after Christmas, and the delight of being remembered and celebrated on Valentine’s Day.
Many believe the day is just a Hallmark way of getting folks to spend more money. For some, true perhaps, but no reason to dismiss the event just because some have ulterior motives for celebrating the day’s goodness and charm. Every holiday on the books can have a negative side, but it depends on what side you’re looking at, and what’s in your heart. Valentine’s Day affords opportunities to extend to others affection, gratitude, and friendship. Maybe in July it would be awkward leaving a rather flowery note for the neighbor down the street, but on that second week in February, it’s all good. And generally much appreciated, especially if it’s hand signed or crafted.
Technology is fast and usually convenient, but it can’t compare to something hand-written. The message doesn’t need to be long or include fancy words that might confuse rather than convey the heartfelt message. But it should come from kindness and consideration. It need not be awkward for the sender or the recipient, just a sweet classy reminder that friendship and affection still exist in this world that is changing more rapidly than we might like. For 16 hours on Monday, February 14th, we can focus less on worries and fears, focusing more on sweet thoughts, sharing them with others, especially those most needing the inspiration and joy of being remembered.
So what’s a good way to recognize or honor someone, asks many an earnest, sincere person uncertain where to begin. The task seems overwhelming to many, even if their intentions are stellar. Giving a gift on a non-obligatory gift day, which Valentine’s Day is really, makes for countless options. But perhaps the best way to start is by deciding the intention in giving the gift. If it’s to really wow someone, well, that calls for more than a card and a candy bar. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those two options, but they may not wow in quite the way the gift-giver would like.
Children give gifts in delightful style and perhaps we can emulate that. They give with enthusiasm, although sometimes shyness temporarily overrides excitement. Their experience in choosing the perfect item is limited, of course, and often they give what they’d like to receive. I don’t believe they are hinting, children are not typically so subtle, they just genuinely believe if they like it, so will the person they are going to give the card or picture or food to. Maybe we could learn a little from that. Of course, adults can decide if it’s really in good taste to give someone struggling to lose weight a box of candy or someone who loathes exercise a workout shirt, no matter how trendy. Children can’t sort through all those rules of etiquette and appropriateness, but they can win over hearts with the simplest of gifts and a face full of smiles. We can do likewise through words, flowers, homemade coffee cake, a small box of candy, or a gift certificate for coffee at a favorite place. The possibilities are many and need not be pricey, only thoughtful.
I remember giving cards and drawings to my parents, grandparents, and older sister on Valentine’s Day. Thankfully my family believed beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what really matters is a pure intention. I scored high on pureness and generosity but a budding artist I was not. They never seemed to mind.
We’ve heard the expression, “it’s the thought that counts” and indeed it is. Sometimes we might have envisioned opening a classy, unique Valentine gift, only to have received something much too practical. That happens, but the giver may have chosen the item with pure intentions. And if we’re honest, we can recall giving a gift that once seemed charming, but when we’re reminiscing years later, creates a much different feeling. Life is too short and sometimes too challenging to worry over such details. (That wisdom hasn’t come easily to me. It’s taken decades to sort through and discard disappointments that now seem so unimportant. Growing older has its blessings.)
If we learn to give with pure intentions, and that includes without expectations of getting something in return, we will not be disappointed. That may be difficult, but we can strive to do our best. If finances are a challenge, skip the fancy greeting card and write a note, or call friends who might be especially lonely at this time of year. “Love” is the theme of the day and that doesn’t mean only romantic love. If you ever felt left out on Valentine’s Day, go out of your way to remember others. Be an example. And have fun while you’re brightening their day. What goes around really does come around. It sometimes takes a few times around the moon but enjoy yourself as you wait.
February is the month of love — a time for Valentine’s Day AND remembering LOVE!
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