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 made 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 Ken 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……Then she noticed that the new girl in class, gawky and shy, had received hardly any Valentine’s and she felt like crying. How it could be right that some people got lots of attention while others were virtually ignored?
At college, with no boyfriend, Mary Ann 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. Someone cared!
One February 14th, a few years later, opening her door to retrieve the morning newspaper she saw flowers being delivered to her neighbor, Mary Ann she wondered if the only purpose for Valentine’s Day was 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 we 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.
Debbie Query, of Gravette, AR lost her husband when he was tragically killed in a car accident, leaving her a widow, when their youngest child was only 2 years old. Several years ago Debbie and her four children started a tradition of hosting a Valentine’s Day luncheon for single ladies in her community who don’t have a Valentine with them because of tragedy, divorce or abandonment. Tea sandwiches, delicious green salads, fresh fruit salad and tea are enjoyed as beautiful music plays in the background and pictures are taken of the special event. This young widow uses Valentines Day as a celebration of God’s love to help others who might be feel forgotten on this day.
Military Veterans asked that their widowed not be forgotten when the veteran ‘passes’. One of the smallest things we can do to honor Vets wishes by remembering those who stood by them, as they served our country. Even a small Valentine card can brighten one’s day.
Those who are alone, for whatever reason, often feel the pain of being left out when non-stop television commercials and store aisles with candy and gifts are everywhere. It’s common to feel like you don’t fit in when you are alone, especially at Valentine’s Day when couples will be celebrating with flowers, gifts or a special meal.
God designed love to be shared. The eternal greatness of God’s love and care for us is demonstrated through the kind acts of others: parents, an older sister, Sunday School teachers, neighbors, grandparents, friends, store clerks, coworkers, etc.
February 14th (Valentine’s Day) provides us a special opportunity to reach out to those throughout the community who because of tragedy, divorce, death, abandonment or some other reason might feel forgotten to let them know that we are grateful for their presence in our lives.
A simple Valentine card with the wonderful assurance of God’s infinite love for us, “We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (KJV) Each is sealed with a prayer that the heart of each person who receives one feels God’s love.
No matter who we are, or what is going on in our own life, we can encourage others, by celebrating God’s love. His love which never disappoints, frees us to love others and turns the day into a day of joy, for both the giver and the recipient.
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16 (KJV)