In the 1940s, when Ken wasn’t much older than the young kindergarten children his daughter teaches today, his teacher placed a big box decorated with paper hearts and lace on her desk. She explained that Valentines cards are given to those we care about. During the following week the girls make a big deal of it when they dropped in a fat pile, one card at a time.
On the day of the party, as the teacher opened the box and began passing out the little envelopes, Ken sat at his desk, waiting anxiously to see who had sent him a Valentine card.
As the teacher came toward him, her hands full of envelopes he sat up straighter. She handed a card to the boy behind him and one to the girl, across the aisle from him, to add to her pile.
Maybe his were at the bottom.
When only two cards remained he was hopeful that one was for him. Yet, when they were handed out and the teacher returned to her desk to put the box away for the next year, he realized that not one person had wanted to give him a card.
He had hoped for at least one Valentine, now he hoped that no one would notice that he hadn’t received a single Valentine. He put on his tough guy face because he wasn’t about to cry at school.
Maybe they thought a boy like him didn’t want a valentine. After all, even he didn’t seem to know just how much he wanted one.
Over seventy Valentines Days have gone by, but this is the one he remembers most. The wound in his heart still stings and brings tears to his eyes. Part of him will always be waiting for at least one valentine.
Ken’s daughter shares this story with her class each year as a valuable lesson on how we can hurt people by things we don’t do as much as with the things we do.
MARY ANN’S STORY
When Valentines cards were being distributed to classmates and the stack on the desk of pretty, popular girl grew Mary Ann prayed that she’d receive an acceptable amount of her own.
Noticing that the new girl, gawky and shy, had received hardly any she felt like crying. She wondered how it could be right that some people got lots of attention while others were virtually ignored.
At college, with no boyfriend, she felt completely left out. In her mail, that day, was a package from her 12-year-old sister containing a pretty choker, nestled in hearts cut from red construction paper. On the biggest heart her sister had written: To M.A., I love you, Jeannie.
One February 14th, opening her door to retrieve her morning newspaper, she saw flowers being delivered to her neighbor.
Was the only purpose for Valentine’s Day to make cash registers ring for retailers and florists?
Swept up by envy and self-pity, she retreated to her bedroom to finish getting ready for work. Tugging a scarf from the top closet shelf, a shower of red paper hearts from her sister (that she had saved all these years) fluttered down on her, like confetti. And there was the one with the handwritten words: To M.A., I love you, Jeannie.
The power of that simple sentiment reminded her that the point of Valentine’s Day is to tell others that you care about them. As she picked up the strewn paper hearts, people she cared about came to mind.
Those who need our love are all around us.*
Not concerned if they’d arrive late she dropped cards in the mail that day to family, friends, co-workers, acquaintances who needed a word of encouragement and folks she had lost touch with, to let them know that she was thinking of them.
*Those who are alone, for whatever reason, often feel the pain of being left out when everywhere are non-stop television commercials and store aisles with candy and gifts.
February 14 provides a special opportunity to let people know we are grateful for their presence in our lives. No matter who we are, or what is going on in our own life, we can encourage others, by reaching out especially in this time of coronavirus, when so many feel disconnected from society.
Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians 6:8 KJV)