For The Someday Book

Valentines A-plenty

Posted on: February 13, 2010

This was the first year B was old enough to participate in a Valentine’s Day card exchange at school. We didn’t hype the “getting” part, but we just talked about how much fun it would be to choose valentines to give to all his friends at school. On Monday, we went to the store and spent a half-hour browsing through the vast array of choices. It’s amazing how many kinds of kids’ valentines fill the shelves these days. Finally, it came down to Bob the Builder or Tonka trucks. To no one’s surprise, the trucks won the day, and we purchased enough for everyone in his class, plus the teachers.

Thursday night, we opened the box and looked over all the valentines. I tore the sheets along the perforation and B scribbled some colors across the “to-from” section. I wrote his name, folded, sealed and stuck a lollipop inside. Friday morning, he was very excited to have something to give to all his friends, and proudly told me, “I think my friends are going to like these valentines. I think they will be excited. I’m glad to give them to all my friends.”

Me: Do you think you will get any valentines?

B: No.

Me: You don’t think any of your friends will bring you a valentine?

B: No. I don’t think so.

Me: Really? No valentines at all?

B: No.

Me: Okay, we’ll have to wait and see.

The next morning, as we were rounding up the bag of valentines to take with us, I asked again:

Me: Are you excited to give valentines to all your friends?

B: Yes. I think they will like these truck valentines.

Me: Do you think you will get any valentines?

B: No. I don’t think so.

Me: Really? Well, we’ll have to see. Maybe one of your friends will bring you a valentine.

Five minutes later:

B: Maybe M.J. will bring me a valentine.

Me: You think so? Maybe. Maybe M.J. will bring you a valentine.

B: I think so. I think M.J. will bring me a valentine.

When I picked him up at the end of the day, he was so excited.

Me: Did your friends like your valentines you gave them?

B: Yes! And I got valentines too!

Me: Really? Wow! Who brought you valentines?

B: All my friends! And my teachers! And there’s candy! And a Spiderman pencil!

He was so surprised and overwhelmed by his friends’ generosity. When we got home, we sat down together and he emptied the bag one by one. He took the time to admire each card, asking me to read the corny messages and announce who had given each card to him and discuss why all the girls brought princesses and all the boys brought superheroes. He treasured each candy and sticker and pencil, and reveled in the fact that his teachers even gave him candy.

There is such a sweetness in seeing life again for the first time. These silly little pieces of paper with their colors and scribbles bore the message to B that his friends care for him, remember him and want to give to him. He was delighted not by the assortment of lollipops and candy kisses, but by the fact that “LOTS of my friends brought ME valentines!”

I’m usually at my Grinchiest around Valentine’s Day, complaining that this day is all about commercialism and capitalism and has little to do with caring, compassion and love. J and I make a big deal of NOT participating in this holiday in any way. But B’s celebration was everything Valentine’s Day should be–a surprising, delightful way to discover that someone cares for you, remembers you and wants to let you know it. A way of saying, “thank you for being my friend,” or “I love you and I delight in you.” A few $1.99 boxes of tiny colored papers was all it took.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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