Tomorrow is Valentine's Day...the day of love...and a mighty great excuse for chocolate consumption and focusing our attention on those that we love. All of us have someone who is our valentine. Either our significant other, our children, parents, siblings, neighbors, or friends. These are the people that speak to our hearts...those that we would drop everything to care for...and those that make our lives richer.
I'm looking outside at a beautiful morning and my yard is blanketed in snow. The air is cold and moist and the landscape is beautiful. In a few months, the colors, scents and sounds of spring will be alive and vibrant. But today...in winter...it is cold, quiet, and peaceful. Almost like the air outside is holding a secret of wonderful things yet to come.
It reminds me that there are changes in life coming that we cannot see...although we can in some ways predict. When we are young, we find that sometimes we are surprised when those changes come. We are so entrenched in the heat of battle for our independence that we sometimes fail to notice that someone left the key to a particular freedom on the table and walked away. Sometimes that is because we have approached a birthday milestone like 16 or 21, and other times because we have earned the right to manage our own lives.
As we get older, we marry, buy homes, purchase our own cars, follow a career, or invest our time in ways that some people may not understand. And then there are the curve balls of life that knock us down or out temporarily. Nobody really signs up for those, but most realize on the other side...that their lives are often changed for the better.
But today, I am thinking about all of the people that comprise my friends and family, and how much I hope that they are happy, well, and fulfilled today. How very blessed I am to have lots of valentines. If I were in third grade, I would have to have at least four or five boxes to hand out. I'd get the good kind...with the really big suckers or a little package of M&Ms attached. Those were always my favorites to receive.
Do you remember how wonderful that used to be? Making the little box or bag for your valentines in class and then later opening it to find it full of paper greetings from your friends? I do like the fact that the teachers began making everyone give each member of the class a valentine...because I did have a secret fear that I'd be forgotten. It was my safety net to counteract my spectacularly overwhelming excitement about any and every holiday.
My mother often says that one of her biggest worries for me then...and even now...is that I'd build up an event so much in my imagination that the reality was always a letdown. I have guarded against that tendency in recent years, and now that it is under control...I consider my enthusiasm for life to be a gift. It took a number of years to understand that I was actually an optimist that was disappointed a lot instead of a pessimist. It was quite a shift in my thinking that I'll take any day.
Because sometimes...life is full of surprises. We get an unexpected bouquet. Our mailbox contains a wonderful card from our folks. We win first prize in a baking contest in the 6th grade with a heart cake. We wake up to a beautiful ground cover of white. Or we get an extra day off that we desperately need.
Happy Valentine's Day! I hope that your hearts are full of joy and contentment this weekend. May you receive chocolate, flowers, cards, or just the kind word that you need to hear. May your troubles melt away like snow in the sunshine...and may your laughter overwhelm your tears. Don't look at what is going wrong with your life today...look at how much you are loved. And if you ever doubt that...just look up.