Valentine’s Day, like many holidays of cheer, can sometimes be fraught with mixed emotions. Sure, Valentine’s Day provides a wonderful opportunity to stop and appreciate our loving relationships with partners. But it can also lead to negative self-judgments if we are not living the Hallmark dream.
Maybe it’s best to think of Valentine’s Day as a day to reflect on all the relationships that give us joy, that bring out the best in us and through which we add light and love to the world. These may be romantic relationships but are not limited to them. They’re also relationships with immediate and extended family, friends, teachers, students, mentors, and those more peripheral relationships we often take for granted—the people we see regularly at the gym, the cashier who rings up our groceries, the teller at the bank, the vet.
I like to think of the people who make the chocolates I eat too many of, who wrap them in their bright red heart-shaped boxes, and, of course, the mail carriers who deliver all those shiny holiday cards. I also think of those for whom this holiday is difficult, those for whom life is difficult right now. I hold space for them in my heart.
A few days ago, a tiny story I wrote was published in The Good Men Project in their section 100 words on love. The piece is called “Whittling Away.” It’s about my first Valentine—my dad—and I’d like to share it with you here:
We held hands, father and I, Saturday nights, as we skipped down 108th Street to the newsstand. We bought the early edition of the Sunday Times and a Hershey bar. How I loved getting drunk off the newsprint, the rank smell of almost-dry ink, the way black bled onto my fingers.
Chocolate, we saved for breakfast. Sunday mornings, as the rest of the house slept, I’d watch my father, paring knife in hand, whittle away at the bar, deep brown shavings falling softly between two slices of Wonder White. I wonder now how I’d never recognized how lucky I was.
Today, I want to take time to recognize how truly lucky I am. Thank you all for bringing out the best in me, for sharing your light, so I can share mine.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.
With many ❤️❤️❤️s and much love,
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