We can “TALK ABOUT…” Valentine’s Day
“Mommy, I have thirty two cards! Look, there are five of the same and I gave out ten of this one! I wish we could buy all different ones next year.” My nine year old daughter had all her Valentine’s cards spread out on the kitchen table and had put the ones with the same pictures on top of each other like in a card game. Her older sister, by just fifteen months, looked at me, and expressed her thoughts: “Mom, I am sad that you only have cards from Dad and us. Why don’t your friends send you any?”
“Valentine’s is more for kids and teenagers or lovers and grownups don’t really need to send cards to show how much they like each other. We just know anyway”, I said.
“But Mom, I know how happy you are when you get letters or cards for your birthday or Christmas and Easter, why not Valentine’s?”
That question was hard to answer but I tried: “Valentine’s Day does not seem important enough to sit down and write to all our friends and relatives, and just imagine how much it would cost to mail them because adults don’t go to school and hand them out like you do.”
The children were quiet and thought about it. My older daughter insisted “I still think it’s sad. I’m really glad Valentine’s Day is a day when you don’t have to feel embarrassed to let your friends know that you love them or at least like them. I did not give a card to two kids in my class because I don’t like them. I gave a card to all the teachers and they are grownups. They were happy and smiled.”
Our conversation about the card giving petered out and the girls continued checking all their cards while I went on with my handiwork darning the holes in some socks. It was cozy and quiet as we sat companionably around the table.
“Eric should be home by now” I commented. I started to get a bit worried because my four year old son’s kindergarten class had finished half an hour ago. The school was only five minutes away and he usually came home right away. Just then the front door was opened and closed with a crush, we heard him stomp his feet to get the snow off and then take his boots off. He came into the kitchen in his snow suit und looked like a Michelin Man or a warmly dressed snowman with a frosty red face. He came to my chair, looked at me with the clear, really blue eyes he had inherited from my father, held out a single yellow rose and said earnestly: “Mommy, I love you. You are the bestest mommy in the whole wide world.” The tears shot into my eyes. The three of us stared at the little man; I accepted the rose and hugged him to me, hardly feeling his small body through the thick, heavy snow suit. His cheeks were cold, he smelled like fresh air and snow the way only Winnipeg winters could make you smell. He gave me a wet kiss and his lips were cold too but he had this incredible warm glow in his eyes and I knew: this glow, the love for his mother and the pride that he was able to give her a rose went through his whole being.
Almost half a century later I like to say that I am glad that he was not a snowman. The incredible warmth that enveloped us at that moment in time would have made him melt. Maybe even me in the process. I cannot remember any other declaration of love in my whole life, innocently stating a simple fact.