Saturday, February 13, 2016
When it came time for the party, we set all the decorated shoeboxes around the room, and with our little sweaty fists full of punch-out valentine cards, make the rounds, stuffing a card in each box. The room mothers set out pink and red cupcakes, cookies, or little cups of candy hearts. And then, time for the opening of the festooned boxes, followed by lots of giggling over silly cards, who gave who what, trying to decipher any secret meanings. Ah, Valentine's Day.
The first box I stuff my silly valentine into is the one marked FAMILY, decorated over the years with hearts and hurts, wild crazy celebrations and somber sad remembrances, hugs, recipes, stories, and old photographs. I love my family. With all my heart. I'm blessed with a large one that includes branches shooting off in all directions - cousins, second- third- fourth-removed ones, in-laws, ex-in-laws, ex-in-laws families, a mess of old folks, young families, teenagers, and little ones. I love 'em all. Even the bat-shit-crazy ones. Even the rascally ones. Even the ones I don't see very often, Happy Valentine's Day, Family!
My biggest valentine is for the battered box labeled HURTING ONES. Those who are grieving, invisible, too visible, on the move, stuck, angry, sick, scared, scarred, hopeless, helpless. A fancy card and loving thoughts aren't enough, I know. You need action. You need answers. You need just a little light at the end of the tunnel. And I don't even know where to start because that starting line keeps shifting.
My valentine to the hurting ones contains promises to think, remember, pray, and act. To refrain from and stand up to thoughtless comments laced with unfounded bias, bigotry, fear of the other, and hatred. To open my ears, heart, and mind to what you have to say, to really listen to how you need me to build relationship bridges, how to help, or at least do no harm. My valentine is an extended hand. Teach me.
To family, friends, and hurting ones, I fling out my valentines in the hope that you feel the love attached. I just wish I had enough pink-and-red frosted cupcakes for everyone of you.
Happy Valentine's Day. From the heart.