Who loved you into being?
Who loved you into being? That question touched the heart of my soul when Mr. Rogers asked the skeptical reporter that question in the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. One sleepless night surrounded by the darkness that three AM provides, I made a list of who might have loved me into being. I tried to remember even the people who had given me just enough to have made a tiny difference in my life, most of them unaware of the positive impact of their smile or kind words.
Valentine’s Day is such an important day to me. As far as I’m concerned, it should be a holiday, one that celebrates those people who loved us into being, and certainly not limited to our lovers, life partners, parents, friends, siblings, and children. I want it to include the person who smiles as they wait on you in a bakery or the neighbor who just says hello each week when they see you coming and going to work. Eye to eye affection is what I call it. It accumulates inside us to make us feel loved.
As a young woman right out of college, I worked in a Mexican Jewelry store called Tawana Imports. I waited on customers, many of whom were looking for gifts for girlfriends, wives and mothers. There were lots of conversations regarding what might be the best token of their affection. I enjoyed helping them. One spring afternoon, a young man came in looking for a gift. I don’t remember what we talked about but it was a quiet, sweet moment of no obvious consequence at the time. A day or so later, the same young man came into the shop, handed me a tiny beaded bag, and quickly left. I opened it and inside was a poem he had written to me on a tiny square of paper. Five lines. That’s all. I‘ve kept it in my jewelry box amidst pieces of my collection of tarnished Mexican jewelry. The thing is, it wasn’t a love poem per se, but a statement that simply recognized a moment in time. Maybe I had helped love him into being, enough for him to tell me so. I never saw him again.
Valentine’s day gives us permission to express that kind of love the people who have loved us enough to make a soft dent in our tired souls. We witness that kind of love at BonBonerie during Valentine’s week. Customers request ribboned boxes for their neighbors, their hairdressers, the kid that takes out their garbage. Often the box just contains a cookie or two.
As far as the mythic St. Valentine goes, he didn’t necessarily know the prisoners he snuck letters to from their loved ones, nor did he know the many couples he supposedly married who had been otherwise forbidden to wed, but he definitely believed in promoting love between everyone he could.
I enjoy some of the simplistic love songs of the fifties, especially sung by Doris Day.
I can hear her singing;
“Love makes the world go round and around.
Love makes the world go round!
Your pulse will beat and your heart will pound,
'Cause love makes the world go round!“
It’s an innocent declaration, and for some these days it may even seem naive, but I challenge you to see what happens when you reach out to declare your affection and your thanks for anyone who has loved you into being. The list I made on that dark and sleepless night covered both sides of the paper. I better get busy making valentines!