In my years of Valentines Days, I have had everything from nothing, not even a sweet thought, to roses, loving cards, and trips to the beach.
As I think to the past, the most treasured expressions of love were simple. My mother, God bless her, always sent children’s paper valentines in an envelope postmarked from Loveland, CO. I knew she spent a lot of time picking the perfect little picture with love words for each of us, and then drove all the way to the Post Office in Loveland for the final touch.
Valentine’s Day’s when I put forth a lot of effort are also memorable: Baking and decorating individual heart cakes; writing personalized poems; serving special dinners using my most beautiful linens and china; calling friends I had lost connection with, or working with other mothers to plan my kid’s school parties. Those were the days.
Part of what makes me smile on Valentines Day is decorating the house. I especially enjoyed it when I had the Old Library Inn Bed & Breakfast. Red teddybears, yummy truffles, and vases of fresh flowers graced each room. Guests were royalty from the moment they arrived until they rolled their luggage out the door after breakfast.
Giving and doing for others is what makes ME smile.
Don’t misunderstand, what others do for me is truly appreciated. But, my memory is less clear when I try to recall the details of roses and chocolates and loving attention. What I most remember, are times when I went out of my way to make others feel loved, or times when I felt unloved or insignificant.
You see, events are more clearly remembered when intense emotion is involved, explaining why historical dates or the Periodic Table challenge our memory. Or, why traumatic events, such as accidents or death are hard to erase, often leading to PTSD. It takes extreme reactions of fear, pain, love, awe, gratitude, or loneliness, just to name a few emotions, to enhance what we recall from the past.
So, don’t sit around waiting for someone to give you something or to say the right words. You are responsible for YOUR smile on Valentines or ANY Day.
Happiness based on someone else’s behavior or choices is risky business.
Figure out what makes YOU smile on Valentines Day, do it, and enjoy the love.
Until the next time: Live while you live
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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