A Cardinal Valentine

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day.

On the one hand, I always look forward to it. I’ve got to admit: I have a sentimental soul. I love romance. Candlelight. Flowers. I love the color red. And God knows we need red—lots of it—just about now in mid-winter. Especially those of us who live in Wisconsin, where we’re just warming up to above-zero temperatures—and it’s snowing again! In fact, I’ve always wondered if that’s why God made cardinals—because he knew that brilliant splash of red was just what we need about now.

But Valentine’s Day can also be hard, sad, or disappointing. A let-down after all that hype about buying your true love diamonds if you really love her. It can be a reminder of what’s missing. Especially if you’re a single mom. Or a “feeling single” mom. Or a mom whose husband is far away. Maybe because he’s traveling. Or deployed. Or emotionally distant.

Maybe that’s why I’ve always thought of Valentine’s Day less as a romantic-hype day and more as an opportunity to do small things for those you love to let them know how much you love them. In our home it was a family event—not a big event, just a special family dinner. I’d cook a “family favorite,” set the table with as much red as I could find, and have at each place some very small favor or gift just to say “I love you.” And we’d have a special dessert.

When I was growing up, my mom often made my favorite cut-out heart sugar cookies. Cookies she made only at Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Now I know why: those little buggers sure are hard to make! Mine always stick to the counter, the rolling pin—or the cookie sheet. I do usually try to make them at Christmas. But just ask my kids: I don’t think I usually managed them a second time in the year!

Speaking of my kids, I wanted to share with you a brief glimpse of Valentine’s Day in the Anderson family. If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that this will be an unusual Valentine’s Day for Lars and Kelly with so many miles—and worlds—between them. And our son Bjorn will be celebrating Valentine’s Day by (of all things!) having his wisdom teeth pulled. I guess that will give his wife Abby plenty of opportunity to show her love through ice packs, soup—and lots of TLC!

And guess what Woody and I will be doing? We’re going to Dublin to visit our daughter Erika and her husband Richie. We leave on Thursday the 14th for a week or so with them. A great way, in my opinion, to spend Valentine’s Day. Just can’t wait!!!

Before I go, I want to wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day! (Or a belated Valentine’s Day, if you’re reading this after the fact.) Whatever day you may be reading this, I want encourage you to brighten the lives of those you love in some small way. It’s always good to start with your husband and/or kids. But you don’t have to stop there. Remember the last blog entry? Be a Barnabas—or a Jonathan—to someone in your life. Or let me put it this way—in keeping with this month and my love for splashes of red: be a mid-winter cardinal. You might even write in and share some of the ways you find to do this. Wouldn’t it be fun to splash a lot of red around this winter?

Meanwhile, see you when I get back from Dublin!