Every time I think about Valentine’s Day, I remember the inevitable Charlie Brown cartoon with Charlie dreaming of all the Valentine’s cards he would get and then finding his mail box empty. I always sympathized.
I still remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school. We put our cards into a decorated box, and then the box was opened and the cards distributed. It was always agony for me. I was neither popular nor an outcast, but I dreaded Valentine’s Day.
I’m still not crazy about it, but for different reasons.
Since Christmas, every time I go into a store I’m bombarded by all the things I can buy for Valentine’s Day. Well, I don’t like feeling obligated to buy things to show my love—especially things no one really needs. I mean—who decided that chocolates and stuffed animals and four-dollar commercially produced cards are necessary to prove you love somebody? Why not red apples in a heart-shaped box? Handwritten notes? Walks in the park? A hug?
I decided to check out the origins of Valentine’s Day. It turns out there are a number of different theories, ranging from February 14th being the day birds chose their mates, to old Roman festivals for chasing away wolves (?), to a priest who married young couples in spite of the emperor’s having forbidden marriage. (Rome was at war and the emperor thought bachelors fought better than married men.)
The story I like best is the one about an early Roman Christian named Valentine who was imprisoned because of his faith. Among his friends were many children who tossed notes of concern and love through the bars of his cell. Unfortunately, he was executed on February 14th. Later, this day was named St. Valentine’s Day after the martyr.
Cool. The thought of having a day to remind us to cheer up other people intrigues me—like maybe it could actually do some good.
I was tempted to send a card to Charlie Brown, but no matter how much I’ve loved him through the years, he was only a cartoon character. So I thought about who else I could send a Valentine to, and I came up with a list.
All people who clean washrooms in public places. What would we do without you?
All who put their garbage into the right containers, put their shopping carts back where they belong, and in general try to care for the environment. Yeah!
All who cook balanced meals for other people who turn up their noses or grumble (like children and hospital patients). Whether we like it or not, the right food is very important to our health.
All who wait on other people in some way—cashiers, sales clerks, waitresses and waiters…. We may take you for granted, but we need you just the same.
All who work as doctors, nurses, therapists, aides, and orderlies, and are finding your jobs stressful from all the changes. Your patients may range from grumpy to clinging, but they all desperately need your smiling face.
All who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or cerebral palsy or another life-impacting disease. Don’t ever think that what you are doing isn’t important.
All who have a child struggling with social, emotional, or intellectual problems. Don’t give up. Your encouragement and acceptance are vital.
All who are trying to be there for a friend or loved one with an emotional problem.
All who are wondering what to do with the rest of their lives.
All who are struggling financially.
All who have regrets.
All who are afraid.
All who feel alone.
Anyone reading this who needs a little bit of cheer.
Now I’m sure I’ve left someone out. So…maybe each one of us, either today or in the days to come, could do one practical thing for someone we know who might need a little cheering up. If we each did something, maybe no one would be left out. Well, except maybe Charlie Brown.
Of course, they do say giving is more fun than getting….I wonder if Charlie ever discovered that?