It’s Valentine’s Day, traditionally my least favorite pseudo-holiday. I think the holiday is generally pretty stupid, aimed at making you buy things for someone or making you sad about not having anyone to buy things for, and then buying things for yourself. (Pint of Ben and Jerry’s, I’m lookin at you.)
But as I plan some Valentine’s-themed activities for my toddlers today, per the request of the school, I find myself thinking of some of the better aspects of this day. The theme this week at my school is “Love, Care, Share.” It begins with Valentine’s Day, and ends with all the Kindergarten staff piling in a van full of donations and renovation supplies and driving 6 hours into the mountains to a small village school. We will be donating items to the students and doing some small renovation projects at the school. In the days leading up to this event, we are talking to our students here about the importance of love and empathy. And while a consumerist greeting card holiday might not be particularly valuable, love and empathy certainly are. This, more than anything, is what I aim to teach my toddlers every day. And that is what I aim to exude in my own life as well, though I so often fail at both. Because really, what else matters?
As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been struck with humility and gratitude at the amount of love that surrounds my life. And so, I forget about the traditional frivolity of Valentine’s Day, and instead focus on being grateful for the constant ways I am shown love in my life.
I am grateful for my toddlers, whose stupidly cheerful faces greet me each morning. Who are as difficult as they are wonderful and who give my days focus.
I am grateful for the friends I have known for years, for whom time and distance are irrelevant factors in friendship, and whose support continues to carry me daily.
I am grateful for new friends, who occasionally slip into my life synchronistically and bring with them much needed kindness and perspective.
I am thankful for family, regardless of how distant they are, who remain steady.
I am thankful for band mates who encourage me when I think myself incapable of creating music, with whom I find my creativity flourishing.
I am thankful, as ever, for the kindness of strangers, of friends, of family, of coworkers. And in a time when hate threatens to consume so much of the world, I am grateful for those who still show love. Who carry on, again and again, and are relentless in their generosity, and who inspire me to do the same. To you all: I love you.