It’s Valentine’s Day Eve, and I’m baking cookies for my co-workers. They are small heart-shaped sugar cookies with frosting. The special ingredient is lemon, which gives the sweet cookie a brightness. I don’t normally provide Valentine’s Day treats for work friends, but it struck me as important this year.
When I was in grade school, Valentine’s Day was an important event for me and my classmates. Each of us spent valuable class time decorating a paper lunch sack, festooning the brown paper with cut-out construction paper hearts in pink and red. I used Mr. Sketch felt tip water color markers to label my baggie with a big, bold “TODD,” outlined in cherry, filled in with raspberry, a underlined with melon. We taped our respective baggies securely to our desk on Valentine’s Day Eve and awaited to the deposits that would be made the following morning. For the most part, everyone participated in preparing individual Valentine cards for our classmates, but it was not enforced. I don’t remember whether I was ever snubbed by a fair maiden who had captured my heart yet refused to give me a card. I do, however, recall times when, though I would receive a card from the object of my affection, it was the least romantic card in the boxed set – the one that made it clear that in no uncertain terms, she was not asking me to be her Valentine. Despite my devotion, she didn’t want me to be hers. Those grade school rebuffs stung. They were a personal pain I didn’t share with my friends or my parents. No one knew about the tiny heartbreak.
My heart has healed since those early bouts of unrequited love, but I have been reminded in the last few weeks that all of us are in different stages of hurt and healing every day, whether emotional or physical. I won’t provide any specifics here so as not to disclose anyone’s heartbreak about a Valentine’s card not given, metaphorically speaking. Everyone’s struggle is their own to share as they choose. I stand ready to help anyone carry their burden, if they think I can help. In the meantime, I’m hoping a lemon-flavored, heart-shaped, frosted sugar cookie will ease the pain just a little. As the saying goes, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
I’ll try to be funnier next time, but for now, I wish you strength, courage, and peace. Happy Valentine’s Day.