Valentine's Day is tomorrow!!!! Love, love, love!!! Lots of candy, cards, flowers, dinners out, special gifts that say "I love you" to someone special in our lives. Is that what Valentine's Day means to you? Can you remember a very special or meaningful Valentine's Day? I remember February 14, 1958 because it came a blizzard on that day in Vidor, Texas. I was in the second grade at the time and all of us who were in Bessie Taylor's class were preparing for our party. We were so excited because it was Valentine's Day and because it was snowing, something that rarely happens in that part of Texas. As the day went on, the snow came down more and more and finally the school officials decided to dismiss school early so that the school buses could get the students home before the messy weather got too serious. So, instead of having our class party at school as usually happens, the teacher gave us our Valentine's bags and our cookies and sent us to the buses to go home. When I got home, I sat down in front of the heater in our living room and opened the bag of Valentine's cards and looked them over while eating my cookies. It was a solitary experience but one that many of my classmates had too. It is funny...but I remember that day more than many other Valentine's Days that have come and gone over the years because it was out of the ordinary. Something special happened that made the day memorable.
My wife and I have celebrated Valentine's Day in many ways over the years. We used to go out to dinner on that special day but decided after a while that all the restaurants are so crowded that it is hard to find a place to have dinner without a long wait so I began cooking a gourmet meal for the two of us. We would light candles and use our best china and silverware and play some special music and have a romantic dinner for two at home. Most years the chef would prepare something a bit more extravagant than usual such as steak and shrimp or chicken cordon bleu with accompanying side dishes and dessert to make it very enjoyable. When our children were small, they would be included in the meal too but as they got older they had their own agendas and many times did not join us. Today, they have their own sweethearts to spend this special day with.
It is interesting how days such as Valentine's Day becomes part of our yearly ritual. It is only one day on the calendar and it is not even a national holiday or one that you can be gone from work on unless you take a personal day or are sick that day. It is a day that honors a man from long ago who, according to legend, was in prison and those who loved him so much would send messages to him by carrier pigeon letting him know that they loved him and were praying for him. His name was Valentine and he lived in the Roman Empire during the era when being a Christian was risky business. He became a "saint" in the Christian world because of his martydom and enduring witness of faith even in the face of persecution. People who knew him actually expressed their love to him in written messages but his name became attached to the special day.
Today we write notes of love to others on Valentine's Day to let them know that we continue to hold them in our hearts. The notes may say "Hallmark" on the back or we may create them ourselves but the sentiment is the same. We choose a card because of the words that are contained in it and often the words are said in a way that we wish we could say them. Many people keep their cards for years to come and may look at them in later life and reflect upon them. The words may say what is in our hearts but our actions speak even louder than the words, not just in gifts we give that may accompany the cards but in acts of kindness and love we perform throughout the year because of the love of God that lives in us.
"See what love the Father has given us that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are...let us love not in words or speech but in truth and action." (I John 3:1,18)