Love Letter to Myself

Valentine’s Day has returned, and on a Saturday this year! I had planned to stay in bed all day (hiding), but someone suggested I try writing a love letter…to MYSELF. My first thought was that there was absolutely NO WAY I would EVER do that. Then, noticing my strong negative reaction, I figured maybe it was worth a try.

To begin, I imagined what I would say in a love letter to another, but after trying to translate that formula to myself, I was left with keywords for practicing a job interview. I got frustrated, but instead of giving up, I realized that one of the things I love about myself is that I don’t give up easily, and I dove in deeper. Here is the final draft:

My Darling Me,

Thank you for challenging me and persisting every time I feel like giving up. You know that you are the one I trust and rely on. You are the one I talk to (often out loud) when I need to sort out the mess of thoughts in my head. You are the one who lulls me back to sleep in the middle of the night when my “shoulds” torture me awake.

I admire your uniqueness, and that when others comment on how you march to the beat of your own drum, you take it as a compliment. You are not only clever and curious, but you also know the proper way to load a dishwasher.

You work hard to approach situations with compassion and to be the bright light in someone else’s day, and I’m amazed by how you can always find the silver lining when storm clouds roll in.

I love that you can be completely absorbed by the simply beauty of a butterfly, or a sky full of twinkling stars. I love your laughter when things go right, or even when things go wrong. It is comforting to know you will allow me to take a time out when I need a break, and even when you lie to me, I understand it is meant to stall the truth until I’m ready because sometimes reality hits too hard all at once.

Please remember that I will always be your biggest fan. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love, Me

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Love Everyday

 

I don’t acknowledge February 14. Upon hearing this blasphemous slight against St. Valentine, some identify me as a bitter old maid. Possibly true, but my distrust of this Hallmark holiday actually began way back when the meaning behind a Valentine had nothing to do with romance. Starting in second grade, construction paper hearts, and candy imprinted “Be mine” were currency in the popularity market. Where was the LOVE?

 

Even after I was old enough to date, the popularity contest continued. Who got the biggest box of chocolate? Who got the most beautiful roses? And despite flowers or chocolate, the effort made by whichever poor schmuck I happened to be dating felt so forced, staged, OBLIGATORY. Would any one of them have considered such overt wooing another time?

 

 

So, it’s not that I hate love. In fact, my love of LOVE is precisely why I’m opposed to Valentine’s Day. Everyday should be about sharing love. Each of us should be encouraged to express love in unique, individual, personal ways 365 days a year. Designating a single day to be in love where flowers and chocolate are mandatory has two outcomes: A) It excludes the relationship challenged, and B) It requires couples to conform to cliché versions of romance. Valentines Day robs LOVE of its pure and honest simplicity.

 

 

Love ends up being quantified in dollars which makes no sense 😦

 

 

Until I experience a heartfelt demonstration of pure love that happens to fall on February 14, I will not acknowledge the day as special. I will not post cutesie messages on Facebook. I will not dine at restaurants with special price fixed menus for two. I won’t wear red or pink. I will watch movies about love on another day. I will eat the little candy hearts after they go on sale, and I will cut perfect heart shapes out of paper next Tuesday…but until we learn to love everyday, I’m boycotting February 14.

 

The Season of Giving

Christmas shopping is done. Gifts are wrapped. Now we wait, with anticipation, for the unwrapping. I start shopping early (August) because I take time and carefully consider each person on my list. The kids are easy so I usually save them for last, but because it is important for me to get everyone something they will really appreciate, I find the entire holiday shopping experience a bit stressful.

“It’s the thought that counts,” right? But that is exactly my point. I want my gift to demonstrate the level of thought.

The Santa side of Christmas thrives on the multitude of options available to elicit the trademark joyous expressions on the faces of small children Christmas morning. An oversized stuffed animal, legos, a life like doll, or in the case of my nephew this year-those roller skate sneakers. I opted not for the plain gray generic pair, but instead went with Heely’s designed like a red race car. They even have headlights that light up. It doesn’t matter that he is five and those shoes cost more than any pair I’ve ever bought for myself, or that he will outgrow them in 6 months. I know on Christmas morning when he opens that box that I will have given him the greatest present EVER, at least until he opens the next one…

“Tis better to give than to receive” is easy to believe in when the kids are so happy.

Recreating the same joy and excitement for adults is nearly impossible. With my mom, I knew if she cried, that was a good thing. Even though I would have preferred a smile, tears were her genuine form of emotional expression. Dad, always quiet and serene, still reveals his truest opinion about a gift by his actions. The longer he hangs onto it without setting it aside, the closer I’ve come to success. My brother always has a snarky comment for each gift he opens (except the ones from his wife), but never achieving the same awestruck reaction from grown ups as I do with kids is disappointing for me-especially because I’ve put in four times the effort to find the adults something they might appreciate. Should I give up my quest and get gift cards for everyone?

“We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” The Harry Potter series shares a lot of universal truths.

I don’t want to gift like a hack. Bah humbug to the safe/generic present. This year, like every year I remind myself that the non-Santa side of this holiday is about the birth of Jesus. We share gifts in recognition for the gift we (Christians) were given by the birth of God’s son, and since nothing I can buy in a store is going to top the gift of life, my gift giving should simply strive to reflect the love I feel for those receiving (even if they aren’t jumping up and down with joy).

True expressions of love in whatever form are the only gifts that really matter. Merry Christmas to all.