How Should We Celebrate Valentines Day?

02/08/2013 06:55 pm ET Updated Apr 10, 2013

I have been teaching lessons, mostly in Language Arts, music and Social Studies, in four of my grandchildren's classrooms. (The sixth grandchild is a toddler, and the fifth is getting ready to go to kindergarten in September.) It is a wonderful way in which I can connect with the children, and it fills my need to interact in classrooms since I have retired. My oldest grandson is going to be graduating fifth grade in June, one is in fourth grade and the twins are in second grade. I have been volunteering my time for the past five years, and I have made some interesting observations. Their teachers are dedicated to their students, and the children appear to be thriving. The parents who come into the classrooms often bring back memories of my own experiences.

Yesterday, I noticed that red hearts have begun to appear on bulletin boards, and the children have asked me when I am going to bring in my electric piano to sing some Valentine's Day songs with them. Thoughts of love are definitely in the air, along with wishes for heart-shaped candies. The parents have voted for a no sugar policy, so candy will probably be at a minimum. I am sure that paper hearts and kind words will replace those little heart candies that come to mind.

I guess I left teaching at the right time, since the parents in my class brought in an array of candies, art projects and goodies. I was especially touched by some of the grandparents who contributed their time and energy to the day. It all seemed so generic, and somehow, the children survived. I want to be clear that I am not promoting poor eating habits, nor do I wish cavities and unnecessary weight for the children. I am just trying to find some balance, even if it shows my progressing years. I ask some of those mothers who come into the classroom with judgement and control on their minds to remember how emotionally delicate the children are. The love we feel for our parents, our teachers, our siblings, our classmates, our grandparents and anyone else is what helps us grow emotionally. We are all, in fact, just the product of that thing called love!

Before I retired, my favorite part of the teaching day was when I took the children in my class to a senior center where we ate lunch together and made valentines. The valentines were always left as gifts for the seniors. We always had a photograph with the children glued in the middle. There was always a valentine goody given to the children upon our departure.

I must share with you one moment that stays deep within my heart when I think of those wonderful days. I was grocery shopping one afternoon, and a middle-aged woman came over to me shouting "Diana, I am so glad to see you!" I remembered her face, but her name had escaped me. She continued to tell me that her mother had passed away a couple of years ago, but she wanted me to know that the valentine with the picture in the middle was the only photograph that they had of her in her later days of life. It became one of their most precious possessions after she was gone, even though the edges had curled and the markers had faded. (It had been hung on her mother's mirror for many years.) The woman's grateful eyes were filled with tears, and within minutes, so were mine.

What a lovely gift she had given me with her story!

This was one way that I learned that whether Valentines gifts are given to be eaten, or if they are written on paper, or if they are simply said in words, they all have equal impact!