I’ve always been a lover of all things vintage and old. An old soul. A person who would rather receive a handmade card over any overpriced sentiment from Hallmark; a tattered book with notes written throughout over any digital version available to download; a blanket hand-quilted by my grandma over any soft plush found at Kohls; or an antique piece that’s been in the family for years over any gift found in store or online.
My husband would probably tell you that I’m his hardest person to ‘buy for’. I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate the occasional ‘new and fancy’ surprise. I do. In fact, I think it’s safe to say we all enjoy the occasional flowers, shiny jewelry, high-end fragrance, or upgrade to something that’s otherwise falling apart. All of those things are nice gifts… but I tend to be the person who expects more. Not more ‘stuff’, but rather, more thought. More consideration. More time. More love. More of those things that simply can’t be purchased with the swipe of a debit card. It’s not the designer brand or expensive price tag that impresses me. The key to my heart is those things that do, in fact, come from the heart.
Today I want to share a story. A story related to the beauty of giving things that come from the heart. A story of my five-year-old daughter who ran off the bus last week, full of excitement as she explained her need to bring valentines in for her upcoming class party. This was no surprise to me. In fact, like any parent of a school age child, I anticipated having to take her into town so that she could pick out some popular character covered cards to hand out to her friends.
“No mom, I don’t want to buy cards”, she explained, “I need to make them.”
‘Whoa… slow down girl’, I thought, ‘This would be a really big task if she truly spent the time making cards for her entire class and while there are few people who appreciate a thoughtful and meaningful gesture more than myself, I couldn’t help but to push for some clarification. I mean really? This could all be taken care with about ten bucks and a quick trip to target. Making valentines for 29 kids and 2 teachers seemed a little ambitious and over the top.
“Are you sure you want to make them? Maybe we could go to the store and just look through the aisles to see if there’s anything you might like to hand out?”
My daughter looked up at me with her big brown eyes. I could tell she was carefully thinking before giving me a response.
“Ok, mom… I’ll look.”
Great. Off to Target we went. We found the aisle full of candies and cards and after about 5 minutes of careful contemplation, my daughter placed a 35 pack of mini valentine Oreos in our cart. Perfect. Done. Another thing I can check off the list.
Fast forward to last night (two days before her classroom party)…
“Mom! I have to bring my valentines to school tomorrow! I still need to make my valentines!”
What? Cue confusion. I grabbed the box of pre-packaged Oreos that was sitting on top of the refrigerator and reminded her that we already had ‘valentines’ ready to put in her backpack.
“No mom. Those are the treats I’ll hand out. Remember? I told you I wanted to make my valentines…”
“Are you sure you want to make valentines too?”, I carefully asked, “You’ll have to make over 30 cards and that’s going to take a lot of time to complete AND they’re due tomorrow so if you really want to do that, you’re going to have to finish them all tonight…”
She furrowed her sweet brown eyes and looked at me as if I was speaking a different language.
“MOM. I told you I wanted to make them. I want to make my valentines.”
Alright… Point taken. We went to the craft closet and gathered some paper, stickers, hearts, and markers. She sat down and I watched her as she worked with her heart. Every once in awhile, she wrote a letter backwards or ran out of space mid-word and when that happened, she got up, threw the half-complete valentine away, and started over. She worked hard. She didn’t care how long it took her. She didn’t care that she was missing out on playing barbies with her sister or dinosaurs with her brother. She had already spent the entire day at school and she didn’t seem to even consider taking a break to relax from her busy day. This girl was on a mission. She had nothing to prove and nothing to gain. She simply wanted to do what she had been telling me along. She wanted to make her own valentines.
And that she did.
29 students. 2 teachers. 2 ½ hours of ‘crafting’. 31 cards total.
You know, I don’t know what the kids will do with their handmade cards. I imagine they’ll love their Oreos. I’m sure they’ll get tons of candies and cards. Maybe they’ll keep my daughter’s work or maybe they’ll toss it aside… I don’t know.
But here’s what I do know… I LOVE those valentines. I love that she held her ground and insisted on this vision for some good old fashioned handmade cards. You know sometimes us parents get too caught up in efficiency and completion. We get caught up with finishing tasks and checking things off our list. We get caught up in trying to get everything done and we forget to listen. We become dismissive and distracted. We forget that some things may take longer, take more thought, take more time… and that’s ok. In fact, sometimes, most times, those are the things that turn out the greatest. The things that mean the most and the things we remember the best.
Happy Valentine’s day friends.
May you all get a handmade valentine or two…