Valentine’s Day is 24 hours long; think bigger this year
It’s easy to get suckered into holidays like Valentine’s Day—either because you wonder if he’ll send you flowers, or everyone on Facebook is toasting each other in Paris with Veuve Clicquot, or you are alone with the Hallmark Channel and cannot watch one more Kay Jewelers commercial without blasting through a half-gallon of Rocky Road.
But love is about more than all that, of course. It is something you see every day—not just on February 14—and it involves far more than reservations for two at a place that gives you a rose when you sit down.
In my lifetime, it has come in moments.
The time my father, who had no use for dogs, hid two Yorkie puppies in his bathrobe pockets on a Christmas morning as a surprise for my mother. The day schoolteachers Connie Berry and Caridad Asensio saw a farmworker’s child come to school with a broken arm that had never been set right and started what would become the Caridad Center, a free clinic for the working poor. (That was 30 years ago; it now has 32,000 patient visits a year.)
There was the story of my grown nephew who left the Catholic Church to become baptized in an evangelical church, much to the dismay of his parents. There were words—and a rift. But the day of his baptism, before it was his turn to be dunked, he looked up for some reason and spotted his father—my brother—in the way back who had appeared with his camera, ready to record the event.
Love was the time our friends smuggled my terminally ill father out of the local medical center and into our house in Colorado on a snowy Christmas morning.
Love is my former husband secretly making a book for me of my old editor’s columns. It is the friends who took my mother shopping for lipstick (Revlon’s Love That Red) when she no longer drove, and the ones who have opened their homes to me during hurricane season.
It is the ones who drop everything and meet me for lunch because I am having a meltdown, and the ones who bring me Mayport shrimp when they come back from a trip to North Florida.
It is what I see every day between John and Margaret Shuff, whom I work for, and between the old German couple I have seen walking every day on Old Ocean, hand in hand, for 30 years now.
When you are growing up, they never tell you much about this kind of love, the one that infuses your life with small moments of grace. We were too busy ingesting Disney’s Cinderella and everything else, from Gidget to “The Notebook” to endless “Bachelor” episodes, to notice something bigger was working all around us, all the time, like magic.
That kind of love is what I will be saluting this month—and all year long.