Many of us will remember in our childhood when every student made a little decorated “mail box” with your name on it.
Many times it would be shaped like a heart and made out of construction paper. Your parents would buy a pack of valentines or you might cut out hearts from construction paper. After you had signed the cards, you would place one in everyone’s box in your room. I am not sure this is done anymore but it is a neat tradition.
But as we have grown older we realize that this mass giving out of “Valentines” to everyone was the equivalence of the solicitations we get in our mail boxes addressed to current occupant or neighbor. I much prefer to listen to a solicitation, where like “Cheers”, they know my name.
It is the same as with any expression of another caring about us. We prefer it to be personal and not just a general thought. There is a need in every life to have people who care for us. Really care for us! Valentine’s Day which falls on next Sunday is a great reminder of this need. Think of who gives your lfve meaning and find a way to express your feelings to that special person.
Why is Valentines special? It is special because of the people we love and who love us. You are who you because of these relationships.
You might think of these words to be a heads up, you have seven day to take care of Valentine’s Day. Don’t wait until the last minute to find a card to express how you feel. Few things are worse than going to buy a Valentine Card and find them all picked over.
Valentine’s Day is the second most popular day to send a greeting card to another. Ii is second only to Christmas. And I do not care how great a card you select, add a little note that makes the expression fit the receiver and the relationship. Generalization just will not do. Remember the real value is in the persons involved.
Some of us are very lucky that there are cards to be bought on Valentine’s Day. In the middle ages feelings were either spoken directly in poetry or sung. Since I am pitch deaf, if I had to sing for my Valentine the relationship might be in grave danger. By the 1800’s Valentine began to be printed and by the middle of the 1800’s lace and ribbon began to be added to the cards.
Of course cards are not the only way to express our feeling on Valentines. It is estimate that over $20 Billion is spent on the day by the time you add up the dinners out, the 220 million roses, mostly red, and 36 million boxes of chocolates. A part of this total is the more expensive gifts such as the $4 billion spent on jewelry.
But the price of the gift is not nearly as important as the expression of your feelings for the one you care so dearly for.
Whether a hand written note or a gift not on the usual list, if it fits the ones involved then it will be effective. Remember making it personal is the best gift.
For all of us who are blessed to have a “Valentine,” don’t limit yourself to one day a year. It is like the couple who had been married for many years and the wife complained to her husband that he no longer told her of his love for her. He replied, “I told you once, and if I ever change my mind, I will tell you.” None of us reads minds, we need to give expression to what is important.
Valentines is important because it makes us be aware of our need to express our feelings. It also reminds us of the importance of listening to the ones we love. We need to seek to understand where they are in life and how we can help them in their life journey.
Notice I used the plural regarding those we love. Valentine does not need to limited to the one person that is our “sweetheart”. The day is also a reminder of those we love that make up our families and our closest friends. We might not shower them with gifts and send cards. But we need to realize the importance of others to our lives. This journey we call “life” would be very lonely without those we care about and who care about us.
Love is what makes Valentines special. Love lifts us out of being self-absorbed. Love helps to open up our hearts to another that we can know we are understood.
B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington.