My dad used to swing by Wilmar’s Chocolates every Valentine’s Day to pick up a large heart for my mom and four smaller ones for my sisters, my brother and me. Some of us wolfed down those candies the day we received them, others savored each piece slowly, stretching that sweet little box out for a week or more. It was a nice tradition and one of the many ways we remember him.
One year, when I was 12, I came home from school and found Valentine’s Day gifts from my mother displayed festively on the couch. Mine, a white jumper with a red turtleneck turned out to be one of those outfits I loved every time I wore it. At 12, just shy of a six-inch growth spurt that would make clothing purchases for me even more difficult, I was a hard sell on the day’s fashions and both my mom and my little sisters dressed far better than I. But, I did love that dress and the sweet surprise of those spontaneous gifts.
I also remember a Valentine’s Day in 1993, shortly after my dad died. Still raw from the shock of his sudden passing, I sat at the kitchen table with my five-year old son Charlie and helped him prepare cards for his kindergarten class. His earnest search for the perfect card that would show a little girl in his class that he “liked but didn’t like like her” made me laugh. That little burst of joy reassured me that life and love and laughter thankfully goes on.
This year, Valentine’s Day runs smack into Ash Wednesday, and our bishops have been quick to assure us Catholics that this does NOT mean a dispensation from fasting. So, for us, that means no chocolate, no tenderloin, no toasting and no delicious breakfast in bed.
What does that leave?
The very best that Valentine’s Day has to offer — the love.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I hope you, your family and friends share a day full of love and beautiful memories.