Remember what Valentine’s Day was like back in 2nd grade? I do. I gave everyone in my class a Valentine. I didn’t discriminate. The goal was to make everyone feel special. I loved those paper Valentine’s. Just buying the box from the local Caldor filled me with excitement. The joy of bringing a little piece of love to everyone. And feeling loved in return. It was so simple. And no one felt left out. At the age of 7, all love was distributed equally. Okay, maybe you gave that one extra big valentine, that came in every box, to your best girlfriend, or your boy crush. But it was still about acknowledging every person in your class.

It was expectation that got in the way. How come Annie got more big cards than I did? Why didn’t Joe sign mine? Did Beth get more sweetheart candies? Jealousy and envy started to rear its head. And why didn’t Deacon give me one at all? I thought I was his best girl friend? All the acknowledgment was gone and now it was about who got more love than I did. And there is the bane of Valentine’s Day. It’s rooted in acknowledgment, cut down by expectation. And I’m here to tell you to let it all go. Because , it’s true, Joe didn’t sign my card. But he didn’t sign half of them because he thought the whole Valentine thing was weird anyway, so he just stopped signing, stuffed them all into the little white envelope, took the class list and wrote each name neatly on the front. He made sure everyone got one. Because even though he might not “like” you, you were his friend. Even peripherally. And that counted.

And here I am. A grown up. And here’s what I still know. It’s not a about presents. It’s not about dinner reservations. It’s not about being part of couple. And it is not about being lonely. When Valentine’s Day is done right — it’s about acknowledgment of time and love well spent. It’s not filled with expectation about how you want to be appreciated. It’s so much simpler than that. It’s about giving from a place of real heart. It’s about receiving with grace. And it’s about remembering how the glue tasted on those sweet little white envelopes as you sealed each and every one with just love and acknowledgment for time well spent.