Guest blogger, Hadley H., is a full-time mother, a part-time writer, a sometimes designer and a constant lover of beauty.
For many years, my husband and I have played a game we call Three Reasons. In a restaurant, in the car, during commercials, whenever: one of us will say "Tell me three reasons why you love me." The reasons are varied and sundry: insightful, romantic, hilarious, mundane. Sometimes surprising in their simplicity or specificity, the reasons are always appreciated and reciprocated. And, since we've become parents, also shared with our daughters. Luke will say, "Catherine, tell me three reasons why you love Elinor;" the extrapolation of that question to reach all of us is an exercise in the expression of love, certainly -- but also thoughtfulness, gratitude, institutional memory (family lore) and, on occasion, humility. Three Reasons is an excellent instructor in the ties that bind.
With this wee rhythm of daily living quietly beating, it seemed natural to make a repository for these expressions -- on paper. Why lose them to time and the night air when, by simply recording them, they'll become future treasures? So, a few Januarys ago, I covered a box with red polka dot wrapping paper and cut a hole in the top to make a Valentine Mailbox. Beside the box is a stack of business cards, blank except for the XO printed on them. Each day, or whenever the mood strikes us, we write a love note to each member of our family. Each February 14, at our family Valentine Ball, we read the notes aloud. We hug. We kiss. We blow raspberries on necks. We tickle. We laugh. We dance. We sing. We compliment each person's choice of "formal attire." We make happy fools of ourselves. We reminisce. We love.
And we save the notes.
Because, as much as we each desire to know we're loved and valued on Valentine's Day, what's infinitely more meaningful is to know -- with proof -- that we're loved and valued every day.
Valentine's Day is for families. Claim it for your own.