So, it’s Valentine’s Day. Big Deal. Except it kinda is a big deal for some. Like my oldest daughter. For some reason I still can’t quite figure out, Valentine’s Day has always been her favorite holiday. Yeah, I think it’s weird, too. Why couldn’t she pick something more mainstream, like I don’t know, Christmas or - my personal fave - Halloween ? Obviously she has never encountered the awkwardness that goes along with exchanging valentines in grade school. You know, that anxiety you feel when you open a valentine from your secret crush and you spend the rest of the school year trying to decipher the hidden meaning behind the store-bought card that reads, “Valentine, you’re the greatest!” Does he think I’m the greatest girl in class? The greatest friend? The funniest? The cutest? Arrrgggghhhh – what is he trying to tell me? And, heaven forbid he toss a handful of conversation hearts your way….
Then there’s always the angst-ridden teenage years. Actually, my mom always had a way of making the day special but not over-the-top, so I don’t have too many traumatic Valentine’s memories from my high school years (yay for moms!). Since I never had a boyfriend, the highlight of the day for me was the awesome heart-shaped cake I knew my mom was going to create for dessert that evening.
And then came college. In particular, Freshman Year. As usual, no boyfriend – and no desire whatsoever on my part to have one. However, all three of my roommates DID have boyfriends, and, like all others who have been impaled by Cupid’s Arrow, they felt compelled to find a mate for me. Which would have been fine except for the fact that every attempt at match-making only served as a reminder that I HAD NO BOYFRIEND. I mean, who needs all that romantic stuff like bouquets of roses and boxes of candy that only serve as a reminder that one is beholden to another and thus unable to fulfill her true purpose in life? Except, of course, when it comes time for the dreaded Valentine’s Day traditions. Things like romantic dinners with bottles of wine. Prepared in my dorm room. Which, of course, meant that I had to find someplace else to spend my Valentine’s evening 'cause, let's face it, no one likes to be a third (or fifth, or seventh) wheel. Yep, college Valentine’s Days sucked.
Until the improbable happened: I found a boyfriend. Hooray for me! Candy, flowers, free meals – now I finally was an active participant in that most sacred of holidays proclaiming True Love. And, what with my being so smart and all, I didn’t let him get away. The Proof? This will be our 26th Valentine’s Day together.
So, maybe that is why my daughter loves this holiday so much: she has felt loved all her life. Even in the midst of her most anguished teen moments, she has always known our love for her – and for each other – has never faltered. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had that knowledge tucked safely away inside their hearts and heads?
This year, my Valentine’s wish is for all children to feel unconditional love. I hope that we grown-ups will endeavor to do something every day that will make life a little easier for our youngest citizens. Maybe it’s giving a kid a pair of shoes. Maybe it’s bringing some toys to a shelter. Maybe it’s becoming a foster parent. Maybe it’s donating to a children’s art, sports, or afterschool program. Maybe it’s voting for better, improved schools. Maybe it’s just something as simple as giving a child a smile. Won’t you join me in making the commitment to not overlook future opportunities to help kids out? Who knows? Maybe in the future Valentine’s Day might replace Christmas as kids’ favorite holiday (but surely it will never surpass Halloween....)