The Joy is in The Giving


It’s February, when Valentine’s Day gives us an opportunity to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. In 2023, Americans showed their love to the tune of nearly $26 billion in greeting cards, candy, flowers, fine dining, jewelry, clothing and more. But contrary to popular opinion, Valentine’s Day is not really a “Hallmark Holiday.”  It has actually been celebrated since the 5th century, long before any of the businesses benefiting from the day existed.

My late husband regarded most holidays – and even our wedding anniversary and my birthday – as something to be acknowledged without too much fanfare or expense. He did, however, make Valentine’s Day (and St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s another story) a big deal for me and our sons. I always received a huge, heart-shaped box of chocolates and a lovely card from him. He also made sure I had fresh flowers, not only on Valentine’s Day, but every single week of the year. He never purchased them from a florist, however. He would pick them on the roadside and in the winter, pick some up at the local grocery store.

My husband also was that guy who, despite the winter weather, brushed six inches of snow off the grill and cooked our Valentine’s Day steak dinners to perfection outside on the deck.

When our boys were young, we took them to a dollar store one year where they picked out a few little heart-shaped boxes of candy – very small with only four chocolates inside. At home, they made out tiny Valentine cards (extras from the box they shared with classmates) and printed their names on each. They then delivered them to the neighbor ladies living on our small street, met by a chorus of, “Aww thank you! You’re so sweet!” They came home beaming. It was yet another way for them to learn that there is as much joy in giving as there is in receiving.

After my husband died in late 2019, my youngest adult son told me a story that truly touched my heart and always will. He said that after his dad was diagnosed with cancer, he wanted to spend time with him whenever possible. One afternoon, they had gone fishing and our son panicked when he looked up from his pole and his dad was gone. He couldn’t find him anywhere. After a brief search, he found his father. “He was up by the roadside picking flowers for you, Mom.” Even through all the pain and fear about his uncertain future, my husband was still thinking of me.

We can all find ways to show love and affection in creative and inexpensive ways – whether it’s for your spouse or mate, children, parents and grandparents, neighbors, friends or others. Sometimes all it may take is a smile, a hug, a kind word – or a few flowers from the side of the road.  

Let’s make every day Valentine’s Day and share the love and joy of giving.


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