I'm not an anything forced person, really. I do better at giving (and receiving) when a gift comes naturally, and arrives just in the nick of time, versus being in answer to the calendar. You're looking at a woman who lives by her instinct, and acts by inspiration and heart-guide, allowing myself to be moved when and how God, or life, or love, or even, occasionally (not too often, because I'm a blonde, after all) common sense moves me. In fact, I'll confess; the most effective tool for getting me NOT to do something, or NOT do it well, is to give me a deadline or a punchlist.
(It's entirely possible that I have authority issues. But we will explore that at a later date.)
It's not that I'm all BAH-HUMBUG about St. Valentine, or that I think taking a day to cherish and celebrate romantic love is foolish or wasteful or overly-sentimental. (Y'all know me better than that!) I think it's a lovely notion, and I'm happy to see this day carry on every year. This weekend we hand-made Valentines for Bean and Peabody's classmates, and baked pink-frosted cupcakes at home from scratch, and I'm planning a special dinner at home tonight for all of us.
So I'm not out on the front sidewalk picketing Love Day, people.
It's just that telling and showing Al and our children how gooey-centered and yummy they make me feel flows with much more power and beauty when I get to do it spontaneously at the VERY MOMENT my center goes gooey. (And it does. Often.) I'd rather give my heart to them when it has welled up so strong I can't hold it back anymore. Let me speak the enormity of my love and gratitude for them out over a God-given throat-lump on a regular Wednesday morning, when it will take them, as it has me, by happy, tearful surprise, and impress directly into their cores how very loved by and precious they are to me. Just because.
As for me? There's not a thing I want or need right now that can be bought at a jewelry store or a flower shop or even the candy counter at the mall, today or any day, really. The gifts that touch my heart most come in soul-packages: Al's listening ear, willing heart, loving touch, or his tender look that says "I understand you, I know you, and I love this you I've come to know," an extra cuddly lap-minute from Peabody, one more sweet hug and kiss goodbye from Bean, because she'll miss me -- the gifts of which a wife and Mama like me can never get enough.
These simple gestures are the every-day Valentines that let me feel that I am loved.
A few weeks ago, when my nephew had just been diagnosed with leukemia and my Grandmother had just died and my washing machine had just broken and everyone in the house was sick, my Mom called, out of the blue, and left a message on my answering machine. All she said was, "I know you're tired and sad. I want to do something FOR YOU. Call me and tell me what I can do JUST FOR YOU." What a simple but powerful thing to leave on a voicemail!
That's a Valentine of the best kind, no matter what day it is -- a magic wand-wave of love, just for me, at the moment (any moment) I need it most.
What about you? How do you feel about Valentine's Day? And when and how do you best express and FEEL love within your family?