Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

What do you think of when you think of Valentine's Day?

Love, chocolate, roses?

For me, many images pop into my mind. I think of those over-achieving grade-school years, where Kyla, Kelsey and I decided to make valentines. The first three took about four hours--glittery, lacy, works of art. The next five minutes were spent haphazardly hacking out twenty-seven construction paper shapes (faintly resembling hearts) and writing "Happy Valentine's Day" till my hand was forever cramped around my pen--desperately wishing I didn't have so many friends.

Then, of course, I think of love. An overabundance of love.

I picture waking-up, expecting a normal day, to notes with Mother's handwriting and treats posted where we do our chores. Sleepy-eyed, wandering into the kitchen and seeing a cheerful banner, our infamous red table cloth, fancy breakfast, and a sparkly valentine at each plate. Mother's handiwork.

I picture the giant bouquets of roses Daddy buys Mother. The unique cards, sweets, and experiences he surprises her with. Then too, the many years of valentine cards I have received from the one who has my heart. Daddy has always made each of his girls feel so loved on this special holiday, right down to the roses or chocolate bar we share.

But this year, something was missing.

Here I am, the recipient of devotion, yet how am I sharing the love I have to give? I am a girl brimming with grace and God's love, so why am I not sharing it?

Forget that. This year, I decided, was going to be different.

It was different! Oh, how delightfully, beautifully different!

Getting Ready to "Show the Love." (We have so many pictures in front of our staircase. It's just so picturesque you know? (Side note: Kinsey has turned smiling into a science…apparently she has the same feelings about that subject as I do.)
Valentine morning was spent in a whirlwind of glue, glitter, stickers and the smell of something chocolate wafting through the air. By the time Kelsey slid the melting fudge brownies out of the oven and I had completed my duties as scribe (yes, my hand had a cramp), there were five fat stacks of carefully crafted valentines.

Let's just say, that in this case, beauty was in the eye of the maker.

Bentley's valentines looked liked the remains of a third World War. He was so pumped about his chaotic mess of black and red. Kinsey's had every sticker in the neighborhood overwhelming one small heart, and a couple of the older girls could not get enough glitter.

Later that afternoon, cellophaned plates of brownies, valentines, and ukuleles in hand, ten of us piled into our six-seater truck ready to embark on our "Show the Love Tour." At our first stop, we piled out looking like a lost circus or carolers that forgot what time of year it was.

Creak. The door slowly opened.

"Happy Valentines!" We chorused.

Ah. I fear we startled our poor elderly neighbor. After quickly explaining our presence, the kiddos swarmed through the door and crammed into the mobile home's tiny entry. All except Bentley, that is. After shoving his valentine into Violet's face, he ran into the living room and plopped himself on the couch--watching TV.

While Kimmers and Kloe played and sang a duet on their ukes, I had flashbacks to Mother and Daddy making us older ones sing at random times  in hotels or restaurants. Now, here I was, pushing the younger girls outside their comfort zones. Funny how time changes things.

Our little tour was short and sweet. We visited three widows and a few other neighbors who have blessed us a lot over the past few years. It was such fun parading around town surprising neighbors and reminding them they are loved. There are very few things more enjoyable than making someone's day, and this was one of the best Valentines I have ever had!

To all my siblings…Thanks for being the most gung-ho troopers ever. I know wearing an itchy dress and tramping around the rain isn't everyones' idea of a good time. I know it's hard getting woken up from your nap and being told to be a cheerful ball of love. I know jumping on every bandwagon your  sister tells you is "a great idea" isn't easy. But you guys do it! I am so grateful we find joy in squishing into cars and breaking out of our comfort zones together. I love you.

Happy Valentines!

Kathryn Joy