Cupid my letter carrier
I have something to confess. I refuse to hate Valentine’s Day.
I don’t care how chic and how cool it is to roll your blasé little eyes and sniff that it’s a Hallmark Holiday, intended to incite guilt, financial debt, and extraneous rose-buying. I would defy every person who complains “but why should we mark one special day out of the year for this?” to not celebrate their next birthday on the principle that “I’ve already been born, so why should I pick out one special day to celebrate that fact?”
Do both, do neither, or shut up.
I’m greedy. I do both. I’m like that, you know.We spend the vast majority of our lives trying to find a way to deal with the loneliness that gnaws at our souls. Most of us live with, at most, two people, and spend a good chunk of our waking lives doing things we don’t always enjoy in order to keep ourselves dry, clothed, fed, and entertained. We reach out tentatively, fearfully, and eventually find a group of people that we come to love and care about.
…and unless kicked in the pants, we never tell them how much they mean to us. Why? Because we think that the fact that we continue to speak and share events from our lives with them is a de facto acknowledgement of our care and love.
Most of the time, it is enough.
But have you ever gotten a letter in the mail, completely unexpected, from someone you haven’t heard from in a while? Answered a ringing phone and heard the voice of an old friend, and realized that putting up the clean dishes suddenly wasn’t nearly as important as it was thirty seconds ago? Come across an old photograph, and had it bring back a memory so sharp you could practically smell the air you were breathing when the photo was taken?
That’s why I did something this year I haven’t done since 1995: revived the “World’s Cheapest Valentine” mass-mailing.
About a month ago, I went to the store for a pad of construction paper and a good pen. I stopped by a stationery store and spent more on envelopes and stickers than I did on construction paper. Then I went to the post office, spiral notebook in hand, and bought stamps. To do so, I counted up every name I had on my list, and when I did, an image of each person came to my mind.
Your voices, your smiles, the capers, the friendship.
I bought the stamps, went home, and got to work. I did the international valentines first, because they had to be mailed first. Then Dad was diagnosed with cancer, and for a few days I just couldn’t bring myself to work on the pile of construction paper. But once I settled in to do it, it was just as therapeutic as I’d remembered: I thought of each of you, your foibles, your quirks, your laughter, your friendship as I wrote out the messages and addressed the envelopes.
Then I slapped some Amish quilt stamps on the envelopes and instructed my local PostalCupid[tm] to get them to you. I think most of you have them by now, or have heard from someone else that the silly, clumsy little things are in the mail.
Roll your eyes all you want. It’s the one day each year that I get to tell you what I really think.