The first day of February is this week and Valentine's Day is on my mind. I'm not so much thinking about where to go eat with my wonderful husband or how much I love those candy hearts with cute messages on them - I really just have the people I love most on my heart. I was back home in Orlando last week visiting with my family and was reminded of two stories that I thought I'd share with you. As I was reminded of these stories, I was also reminded that Valentine's Day isn't just about our romantic loves- it's about all the loves in our lives.
Being at home with my mom and her three sisters is always like a scene from Steel Magnolias. If you can picture five Southern women sitting around laughing, eating, crying, and telling stories, then you can picture what our visits are like.
One of my favorite stories is one that I first heard years ago when I stopped in to see my Great Aunt Thelma on my way back to college. She told me a story of a man who had come into her bookstore. She had been talking to the man about where he was from and where he had gone to college. He was surprised when she said her nephew, my father, had gone to the same school. When the man asked her nephew's name, my aunt told him my father's name. The man exclaimed, "You're kidding! He did something I'll never forget." The man then told my aunt a story about a time in college when he was hitchhiking his way home for Christmas. It was freezing cold and snowing. He was very poor and he didn't have a warm coat. My dad, whom he really didn't know very well, saw the man on the street. My father stopped and took off his own coat and gave it to him. He later found out that my father had given him the only coat he had.
My father is 80 years old and not doing too well. He has always had a huge heart and has given anything he had to those around him in need. He probably never knew what an impression he made on that man. Or that the gift of that coat would only be one of thousands of gifts he's given in his lifetime.
We told lots of stories like that, but we also caught up with current news. I had brought home the most recent coverage of Jordan Alexander, from the February Oprah Magazine credits to the new Robb Report Valentine's Day picks. As they flipped through each page, one of my aunts said, "Grandmother would do anything in the world to be in the middle of this! She'd put on every piece you've ever designed and march herself up to New York to tell these editors everything she'd think they should know about you and the line. She'd love it more than any of us!" We all laughed in agreement. She was so right.
My grandmother had beautiful, lavender eyes. I can just see her sparkle wearing my jewelry. She was always the best dressed wherever she went. The last time I was able to visit with her when she was dying, I deliberately wore an orange sweater with pink sequins because she loved color. She was always trying to get me out of the grays, creams and blacks that I love so much. The last thing she said to me at 93 years old was, "Honey, I could get a man wearing that!"
Just being with my family reminded me that Valentine's Day is a celebration of all the people you love in your life. It's about matters of the heart - all the loves you have, not just the romantic ones. When you're giving this Valentine's Day, I hope you open up yourself and give with your whole heart to those who matter most to you.
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