I know that Valentine’s Day is over. Time to move on to St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, as we trundle through our calendar. But bear with me, because I have a Valentine’s Day post that I couldn’t put up before the actual day without ruining a nice surprise for many of my family members.

If you watch TV at all, or happen to walk into a store, the marketing gurus and consumer products manufacturers would have you thinking that Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating romantic love. They want you to buy wine, roses, jewelry, chocolate and sexy lingerie, and they try to sell it all by making you think that you need a fabricated, romantic holiday to make use of all that stuff.

But let’s face it, other than young lovers and newlyweds, Valentine’s Day isn’t that big of a deal, on the romance side. (It is DEFINITELY a big deal for preschool and elementary children, but that’s a different topic.)  I loved last week’s episode of Fresh Off the Boat, where the neighbors volunteered to keep the kids on Valentine’s Day so Louis and Jessica could have a romantic evening out, and instead of going out for dinner and dancing they did their taxes. Pretty good look at typical married life! And if you’re not in a relationship, it’s just a day to hate because you feel bad that you’re not in a relationship.

Instead of romantic love, I believe Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to let loved ones in your life know you care about them. My daughter is one who has taught me that. A few years ago, when writing her name on cards for kids in her class, she decided she wanted to go a step further and send Valentines to people in our family. And that tradition stuck with her. This year she spent most of the Sunday afternoon the week before Valentine’s Day cutting out construction paper and putting stickers and glitter on 15 Valentines.

As I addressed the envelopes and got those big, somewhat cumbersome Valentines ready to mail, I couldn’t help but be proud of her for all the thought she put into them. One person was new on the list this year, and when asked why she was added, Caroline said, “Because she’s sad, and I want to help her feel better.”

These Valentines aren’t the most beautiful pieces of artwork. They weren’t purchased for vast amounts of money. And because I didn’t want to go back out to the store, they were stuffed in letter-sized envelopes, so they probably arrived at their destination somewhat folded and worn looking. But I hope that each person who received one knows that they were made with love. And that for a few hours that day, Caroline spent some time thinking about each one of those people, what they mean in her life, and sending a little love their way.

In this age of texts and emails, we’ve lost the personal touch that a heartfelt letter brings. It took making construction-paper cards on Valentine’s Day to have a few heartfelt pieces of mail be sent out to the family. It’s always good to have an excuse to reach out, and maybe we need to get better at reaching out without an excuse of a holiday. So as commercial and fabricated as this holiday may seem, there was some good that came from it after all.

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