It's February 14th, the accepted date of an annual celebration of love. I heard on our news this morning that the 'holiday' goes back to the third century. My own celebrations don't go back that far, obviously, but I've had a good many of them.
I have vague recollections of grade school parties, when we'd each decorate a shoe box with red crepe paper, hearts and ribbons. These would become our mailboxes where our friends would deposit their paper offerings to us. I remember some teachers would hand out a list with all the classmates names on it so that no one was left out. There would be refreshments, usually cupcakes or pretty homemade cookies, heart-shaped and decorated with red glittery sprinkles or pink icing. Sometimes there would be small paper cups with candy message hearts too.
As I grew into teen years, those parties at school had ceased. By then there was a 'boy friend' who was faithful to deliver a pretty card and some sort of gift. Sometimes it was a box of chocolates, sometimes a piece of jewelry. I still have a silver pin in the form of an open heart and a gold chain bracelet with a gold heart charm. I've removed the charm, however, because it was engraved with his name and mine, and those days are long gone! I do wear the bracelet now and again, with no thought of where it came from.
As far back as I can remember, at our family dinner table on Valentine's day, there was a small heart-shaped box of candy on our plates....a gift from Mom and Dad. I carried that tradition on with my own children when they were younger.
My husband is always good about cards, and he's quite a romantic man. He always recognizes Valentine's Day in some special way. Every year at this time, or at Christmas when the jewelry stores are incessantly hawking their wares on TV, I jokingly say..."oh yeah! There's my perfect gift" or "that diamond has my name written all over it." He knows I'm kidding. But, truthfully, I've come to realize that it's the little things he does throughout the year, not just on February 14th, that mean the most to me. It's not the things that can be wrapped in a pretty box, but rather the wrapping of his arms around me. It's not new little trinkets to be worn on my body, but the remembrance of what he said when we were shopping for our wedding rings. When I see my white gold wedding ring ... engraved with tiny stars, his words that day replay, 'you should have this one because Kathleen still puts stars in my eyes.'
Why is it that we have to designate a special day on which to celebrate love? Wouldn't it be nice if people would celebrate the 'little things' every day year-round? Wouldn't it be a warmer, sweeter world if each of extended a smile, a word of encouragement, a small act of kindness to each person we have contact with? I think so.