I love Valentine’s Day! Not only does it provide a great excuse to buy multiple bags of conversation hearts, but when our children lived at home, I enjoyed adding little extras to make the day special. I would prepare their “favorite” meals for the day. Some years we baked and decorated cookies. When they were little, I cut their peanut butter sandwiches into heart shapes and red napkins replaced the white ones. (whoo-hoo!) As you can see, I did not get the creative gene. Thankfully, our kids seemed okay with that.
When they all were preschool age, I decided to initiate a new family tradition. We started making homemade cards for each other. And we’ve never stopped. At first, the children drew pictures, so Terrell and I did, too, with simple words of love that we would read to them. Gradually, they added brief sentences, asking, “How do you spell…?” Of course, at some point they each did their own version of “Roses are red…” Sometimes the cards were quite artsy and other times they were sentences in pencil on folded notebook paper. This didn’t matter to any of us…but the words sure did. Still do.
Valentine’s Day provided another opportunity to teach our children how to express their feelings – in writing. As their got older, their messages got longer. More sentiment was expressed. What started out as “I (heart) you” or “I’m glad you’re my sister”, became 3-4 sentences, then 5-6 sentences. Separately, Terrell and I would write each of them a special note, a love letter. When they were little, we helped them read it.
In our letter, we describe things that we love about that child. For example, I might tell Cecilia how I love the way she comes down the stairs every morning singing something. To Terrell, I might share how I love the way he asks me how my day has been, every day. And to Ellison I might express my love for the way he is so affectionate. Different years generate new themes for things we see that we love in each child’s character or personality. Every year I’m sure I repeat familiar thoughts – because I still love those things about that child. Often, as Terrell and I later read each other’s letters to the kids, we discover that we’ve said many of the same things!
To be honest, my kids (and husband) could write the same note to me every year and I would probably cry. There’s something about the written word of love. Its message and effect is timeless. Over the years, I’ve discovered that Terrell and I are not the only ones that save our homemade cards. They are keepsakes, that will never need interpretation.
God gave us His Word, written, for us to know over and over again how much He loves us. The Bible is an amazing love letter to each of us.
As our Heavenly Father expresses His love to us, so He desires for us to express our love to our children. For many of us, expressing our feelings is NOT an easy thing to do. God knows. Ask Him for help. Faithfully, He will supply words that are authentic to us. Whether our children are toddlers or adults, I pray that this Valentine’s Day provides a way to begin to express our feelings of love to one anther.