"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

valentine lessons learned

Celia calls this "Single Awareness Day".  I remember those years of walking by the high school main office brimming with Hallmark paraphernalia on Valentine's day ... none of which was for me because there was nary a boyfriend in sight.  

It's okay, I tell her.  One day, you'll find one to be your Valentine every day, even when he's miles away on a business trip :)

There are a lot of lessons to be learned surrounding this one holiday.

First and foremost, we celebrate relationships.  My dad used to dislike the fact that there was one day on the calendar proclaiming when he must profess his undying love. I thought that pretty practical reasoning once.  However, since growing a family, I've loved turning this holiday into a time to gather all my favorite people to celebrate our family ties.  I love making it a special day for them because "the world" doesn't always make them feel special. 

Next, I like to think of Valentine's Day like Christmas.  It really is about giving and not receiving.  Isn't that the way love works?  It doesn't work very well on a first person basis. Love always crumbles the minute my focus shifts inwardly.  

And that's why, though I was sighing at 11:00 last night as every last teen in my house was scrambling to pull together their little gifts for friends ... cookies baking, bracelet making, gum bagging, — a craft paper, glue, ribbon, wrapper explosion atop an exhausted mother — I couldn't help but feel my heart swell up at their excitement to give to their friends.  Even though they might really be considered "too old" for Valentine's, they don't see it.  There was genuine excitement at making someone else's day and not one word about who might be reciprocating or what other's might think. 

Lastly, this is also a holiday about gratitude and kindness and I've tried to drum this into both my boys and my girls. 

Christian loves Valentine's Day more than anyone.  In his later elementary years, he would purchase a bouquet of daisies with his own money and ask me to separate them into individual tissue and ribbon wrappings for all of the girls he knew.  We'd shake our heads and hide our smiles at the 3rd and then 4th and then 5th grader, who excitedly headed to school with his cupid under arm wares.

And then the school boys teased him about being a "player" which rubbed me wrongly and induced a lecture about future (and I stress future) dating comparing to a trip to an ice cream store.  That little taster spoon allows you to sample all flavors and decide what you like in the end.  The current dating trends are to zone in on one and only one much too early and won't allow for much learning.

I'm sure he internally rolled his eyes at me, because last year for Valentine's day, he decided to put all of his eggs in one basket despite my "old fashioned" ideals.

Unable to change his mind, I helped him think outside of the box and do something cute, non-romantic for his early age, and just plain fun to make this girl feel special on what can otherwise be a lonely day.

We made a candy gram together.

And he took it to school and she ridiculed and turned up her nose .. in front of her friends.

And he got burned and resolved to never do anything again.

You can bet I boiled up another lecture to all of my girls about being appreciative of whatever comes their way by whomever, regardless of personal feelings.  It sometimes takes every ounce of courage that a young man has, to ask a girl to dance, to call a girl on the phone, to give a girl a gift.  Hide those feelings if you're not interested and work on that "let down" privately later, but always. deal. kindly.   And show your gratitude in the moment.  A smile and thank you will do.  You don't have to love him.  But remember, there will come a time when no one will notice you at all.  Best savor the moments when someone does.

To Christian, I bit back my "I told you so".  And spent the last year convincing him that the time is not now for choosing just one flavor.  For every one girl who turns up her nose, there's a dozen who just wish he'd pay attention and make her feel a little special today.  Regardless of current trends or what other's might say, every young girl just wants to go somewhere fun and have a great time.  Now ... he's still not dating age.  Not for another three years at least.  But it never hurts for him to see, that by dealing respectfully and genuinely interested, he can make each girl feel like she's on top of the world today when she's with him.  The time for narrowing will come ... just not yet.

And so this morning, he left with a bag full of homemade Valentine's for every girl he knows, in the hopes that she feels special today. 

That's my boy.

And that's my Valentine soapbox.

And it's teachings to a not too distant future houseful of dating teens.

And these are the Valentine mailboxes.  I thought Grant was going to be sick with excitement.  

Here's hoping your Valentine's day is full of celebration for the one's you love and gratitude for the blessing of family relationships.  Happy Valentine's day!


  1. LOVING the look on Grant's face. Wow, youall do valentines day quite a lot bigger than we do it. It rates on the same scale as, like, St. Patrick's day around here. Perhaps I shall take some of your ideas and, you know, make our lives more worth living.

    Love the fuzzy hair! Happy Valentine's Day!

  2. I am with you Marlowe about making this day about the kids feeling special! Glad Christian is back to his old ways of making all the girls happy! Foster took in a handful of tootsie rolls and handed them out to people he felt like giving them to...while Ana delivered Monster & sour patch kids to her crush...sweet and innocent! Next year you have to get them working on it earlier so you aren't up till 11! hugs, cathy

    1. Seriously Cathy! I truly budgeted my time for the two elementary kids. I was patting myself on the back that this would be an easy year. The whole 11:00 thing totally blindsided me! Next year ... I'll not be lulled into a false sense of security :)

  3. I love your thoughts about these things--have to remember them for next year, when we're not right in the middle of moving!

  4. I love your pictures, they are really beautiful. You are teaching your children wonderful things :)

  5. Grant's face cracks me up! And you are right....you do not have to love them...but you have to respect them...a smile and a thank you will do! So far, we haven't really had any Valentine's love declarations outside of our house....hoping that continues for a while...so it is just a holiday for "us" and making each other within our four walls feel special!