I don’t like Hallmark holidays

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CIZEditorsI hate Valentine’s Day. OK, hate is a strong word, especially on a day associated with love. But, I have to admit, I just don’t like it. Probably because it’s one of those holidays that seems to be unnatural and arriving with a sense of obligation or expectation. Have you ever been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day and not received something, even if it was just a card?

And what if you’re not in a relationship? It’s a constant reminder of your singleness everywhere you turn. Who can ignore the grab and go bouquets of red roses at Marsh as you enter the store, or the huge heart-shaped boxes of chocolate lining the aisles? It is overwhelming and I’m sure depressing to those who won’t be sharing the “holiday” with a loved one.

I guess I’m just a fan of the simple or handmade gifts that arrive at unexpected times, when someone notices that I need them the most. My daughter, Carolyn, is the master of this. She pays attention.

In fact, the most beautiful gift of love I have ever received came from Carolyn. It arrived in a series of envelopes on my bed after she left on a trip with her dad. A note on top of the seven envelopes read, “Each morning while I’m gone, pour your coffee and open one envelope.” With anticipation, “Day 1” arrived with a note that said, “We’re probably at the pool right now. I’ll have a smoothie for you, Mom!” Enclosed with the note were a handful of puzzle pieces with the remaining pieces in the unopened envelopes.

Laughter and joy came each morning as I assembled the puzzle and read the notes that she had prepared before leaving, attempting to predict what she would be doing each day. “Today, we’re probably going to the beach. I won’t forget suntan lotion!” On “Day 7,” tears filled my eyes as I read the final note and completed the puzzle, a hand drawn creation, with palm trees and the words, “I love U, Mom.”

Flowers for no reason, an unexpected card in the mail, envelopes with handmade puzzle pieces, these for me are true gifts of love because someone was paying attention and cared enough to do something when I needed it the most.

I say we move quickly through Valentine’s Day and right on to St. Patrick’s Day and trade the champagne in for some green beer!

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