Until I had children, I never gave a thought to Valentine's Day. It was not a part of my childhood, and when I became an adult it seemed like such a cliche that I had no interest, even after meeting the man I have now shared my life with for nearly 17 years. I just didn't see the point of enriching corporations just to tell the ones I love that I do. Instead, I thought, I'd focus every day on loving them. And I do.
But when you have young children, Valentine's Day has such sweetness to it, and not just because it's yet another day to consume more chocolate than is good for anyone. My 12 year old daughter spent almost two entire days preparing for this day this year, making chocolates by hand, cutting and folding gift boxes and carefully writing on each of them. What she received in return ranged from the quickly thrown together card to the carefully folded piece of origami with a personal message inscribed just for her. Similarly, my 9 year old spent a few hours making her valentines and when she came home, she showed me each one she had received. She also came home from school with this lovely handmade mobile which now decorates our dining room.
Over the years, because the children love it so much, I have left them special love notes or given a small chocolate lollipop (heart-shaped, of course). But that was the extent of it, and I never gave much thought to the day in any other way.
But yesterday I went to my dance class. During the hour plus in that room, I was treated to a paper heart with the word "Joy" written on it, I got to hug someone in pain, I heard a beautiful poem, I listened (and sang along) to this song and I connected with 10 other women in a way that stunned me in it's beauty and intensity.
And then I got why my children put so much effort into their preparations: not just because it is exciting, but because what could be more life affirming than a day on which to celebrate the giving and receiving of love in so many different ways, from the material to the deep soul connection that lets everyone know that they are safe, that they are worthy. That love is not to be understood only in the framework of intimacy with one other person, but that it can bring us closer to many people, on this day and every day.
So today I am greatful for the magic that happens when you open your heart a little to the possibilities of giving and receiving love, connecting with other people in the smallest and the most meaningful ways. It was indeed a very happy Valentine's Day.