My granddaughter was playing on the floor in front of me as I watched her from my armchair. She may have been about five at the time. Suddenly she stopped what she was doing and her expression became serious. She looked up and said “I care about you!” I don’t know what prompted her words but it was especially remarkable as we were separated by many miles and seldom were together.
This moment in time meant a lot to me. As Valentine’s Day draws near, we are reminded to let the people in our lives know that they are loved.
When I was growing up, family was important. We celebrated life which included a heritage rich with tradition. When February 14 came into view my oldest sister made a batch of fudge. She cut it into chunks and filled a large, red, heart shaped cardboard box which she presented to our father each year as a token of her love and respect. (You may be sure he had help disposing of the contents!)
In the evening my two older sisters and I would be having supper with our parents. There would be a knock on the door. One of us would check to see who was there. No one was in sight, but there in the doorway was a package wrapped in white tissue paper, tied with a red satin ribbon and decorated with a red heart cut out of construction paper. On the heart was a name of one of us girls. The package usually consisted of wearing apparel, a blouse, sweater or scarf. There followed two more knocks on the door and two more mysterious packages. The “ghost of St. Valentine” remembered all three of us. Of course we knew it was our mother leaving the gifts but this was a game we played each year.
At school the girls wrote their names on scraps of paper and dropped them in a box. The boys each drew a name from the box and sent a Valentine to the girl whose name was retrieved. Sending and receiving Valentines with family and friends provided us with entertainment, surprise and delight.
Among my memoires are a collection of Valentines exchanged between my husband and me over our 53 years together. Some are hilariously funny. Others poignant and profoundly thoughtful.
We are indebted to Elizabeth Barrett Browning who wrote, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, when feeling out of sight for the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s most quiet need by sun and candle-light.”