By Anne Maxwell
As anyone who works in an office on Valentine’s Day can tell you, it typically begins at 10 a.m.
Maybe it’s an arrangement of pink and red blooms accompanied by a spray of baby’s breath and tied with a stylish bow. Perhaps it’s a colorful, balloon bouquet gathered in a mass of curled ribbon. Or, even better -- the classic standard, timeless favorite -- one dozen blood red roses.
One’s opinion of February 14 can have a bit of a split personality. It all comes down to who’s receiving something from their sweetheart, and who’s not.
The gap between these two views was more like a chasm for me in college living in the sorority house. Our doorbell rang intermittently throughout the day as a parade of flowers and goodies erupted squeals of excitement from members of team “He loves me,” and sighs of discontent from those in the “He Loves Me Not” camp.
After answering the door and handing off arrangements addressed to my sisters, the holiday of hearts left me more blue than red. My blues morphed into green as recipients read the accompanying card and smiled at the affectionate sentiment. As Valentine’s Day morning turned into afternoon and the flower brigade blossomed atop the buffet in the foyer, I was ready to strangle Cupid.
Even without a trending hashtag of #Galentine’sDay back then to inspire us, my single friends and I had our own take on how to spend the evening. A pizza dinner, followed by a Tom Cruise movie rental topped off with a few servings of pity-party cookie dough comprised our agenda. But before our own version of holiday celebrating – or berating -- began, I decided it was time to check my mail.
And there it was.
But not just any Valentine.
It was an oversized envelope with my mom’s writing. I smiled -- as any college student does with unexpected mail and possibility of a little extra cash. But when I opened it and caught a glimpse of the construction paper along the edge of the card, I knew the card was not from my mom.
It was from my baby brother.
On the cover was a brown teddy bear holding a heart, neatly pasted in the center of the card. The inside displayed the same loveable, cutout bear image, only this time, upside-down.
“Valentine, I flip over you!” the card exclaimed.
Underneath was the perfect message scripted in his imperfect third-grade handwriting:
I love you, Anne.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The first genuine smile of the day crossed my face as I hugged the card and wholeheartedly embraced the holiday.
How foolish I’ve been, I remember shamefully thinking.
No, I didn’t have a boyfriend to send me flowers.
Yes, I was single.
Both of these were true.
But, so was this: I was not alone.
It would be a few more years until I met my forever Valentine and husband, whom I would spend the rest of my February 14ths with as his sweetheart. However, that particular Valentine’s Day taught me the true meaning of a holiday that honors the way love makes the world go round.
Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers.
It’s for anyone who’s loved.
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