a (redefined) happy valentine

by eringoodman on February 15, 2010

in community, shifting perspective

I have never fully embraced Valentine’s Day.

When I was single, the day and everything leading up to it, seemed to focus on what I lacked, and I found myself resenting the Hallmark-fueled mandatory expressions of romance.

When John and I met, he was equally ambivalent about Valentine’s Day, preferring to focus his attention on what he felt was a sorely-underrated holiday: Groundhog’s Day.

And so as our relationship unfolded we happily exchanged cards and small gifts on Groundhog’s Day, and then privately snickered as everyone else paid ridiculously inflated prices for flowers and chocolates two weeks later.

But then something happened.

Two beautiful little people came into our world, seemingly on a mission to teach us to see love and beauty everywhere.

Last week as my children made simple, handmade Valentines for their classmates and teachers, I felt my heart soften and embrace the sweetness of what this holiday was — long before it was Mylar balloons, and singing cards, and chocolates wrapped in plastic.

And then yesterday, at our UU church, as if the service was designed just for me, our minister invited us to re-image Valentine’s day while speaking of the power of love to heal our world.

While I was upstairs singing (I recently re-joined the choir after a 4+ year break  — yay!) and enjoying this inspiring service, John and the kids were downstairs in the RE classrooms making signs to express what love and peace and equality mean to them.

At the end of our service they paraded into the sanctuary carrying their signs and invited us all to join them by marching about a mile from our church to the center of town for a Standing on the Side of Love peace rally.

While we marched I asked Lily what the rally was all about.

“It’s about spreading love, Mama. And brightening people’s days. And being kind to each other. That’s what Valentine’s Day is all about.”

And this is how on a cold, February day, as I stood on the side of the road with my children and more than 80 members of our beautiful spiritual community, smiling and waving our signs as passerbys honked and cheered for equal rights and equal marriage and world peace, I came to know and love and joyfully celebrate the true spirit of Valentine’s Day.

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{ See more photos from the rally on flickr. }

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah Marcotti February 15, 2010 at 7:41 am

How beautiful. I am inspired by the place you have found to teach and inspire your children and yourselves spiritually.

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kate February 15, 2010 at 8:33 am

oh, i LOVE THIS.

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Denise February 15, 2010 at 8:55 am

that is so great. she got it. such a quick learner.
.-= Denise´s last blog ..I am my valentine =-.

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Rose February 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

Beautiful!

Can I tell you that now that I’ve heard your voice a few times, I can imagine you reading all your posts?
.-= Rose´s last blog ..A Beautiful Thought for Valentine’s Day =-.

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Hillary February 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

Thank you so much for this. Our V-day slipped right by us and I was feeling a little lack of, but your post filled me in a beautiful way.

Thank you so much for sharing such beauty!
.-= Hillary´s last blog ..flowers13: @RonnaDetrick sounds fun! enjoy the champagne! =-.

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kristen gilmore powell February 15, 2010 at 10:11 am

I love this post. What a wonderful day you had! I am usually a valentine’s day- hater but realized I had a tiny shift this year, too. I made a few valentine cards and sent them out and made my husband his favorite cookies in the shape of hearts. I guess it just felt good this year to celebrate love in a special, simple way.
.-= kristen gilmore powell´s last blog ..Finally, snow! =-.

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Elizabeth February 15, 2010 at 10:17 am

I love the phrase ‘standing on the side of LOVE’….children are our teachers. Miss Lily shines again;)
.-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..take a breath =-.

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Samantha February 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm

May your beautiful gathering inspire those who need it most! Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend!

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Ivy February 15, 2010 at 1:08 pm

What a fabulous community you have found for yourselves. I love that you all did this and that Lily got it so perfectly.

We have our nieces and nephew her so it is a kid’s holiday — not one my hubby and I usually pay too much attention to. But happy belated V-day to you and yours anyway.
.-= Ivy´s last blog ..Snuggled in With No Where to Go =-.

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6512 and growing February 15, 2010 at 1:15 pm

So sweet. Kids are such geniuses at teaching us to embrace. (I was a christmas-skeptic my whole life, and who knew two children would show me the joy in the holiday).
That daughter of yours has got it right!
.-= 6512 and growing´s last blog ..The differentness of winter =-.

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MamaBird February 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Just beautiful… your thoughts, your Valentines, your actions and, of course, your daughter. Sending you love.
.-= MamaBird´s last blog ..Circles and Hearts =-.

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Gillian February 16, 2010 at 2:58 am

What a great way to celebrate the day. My husband and I don’t celebrate it, but I can see that the church’s interpretation is a good one to remember on February 14.

Thanks for the link the the UUA website. I enjoyed reading the comments about the day (http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/158319.shtml). It’s refreshing to know that there are some liberal churches in the USA. My limited view of the country while looking in from the outside, is one of somewhat conservative values. Discovering your website has been most enjoyable :)

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kyndale February 16, 2010 at 11:40 am

My same journey! I disliked being lonely on the Valentines when I didn’t have someone to give me flowers and cards. I guess I was buying the commercial idea of Valentine’s Day. Now, I have three little people that show me that it’s all about sharing the love with the people around me. It’s really nice being loved and showing love.

Congrats on getting back into the choir!

Love, Kyndale
.-= kyndale´s last blog ..love : : Jamie Oliver =-.

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Rae February 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Great story Erin.

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Rae February 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm

oh and very pretty valentines too!!

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Julianna February 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

Gorgeous…!!

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Theresa February 20, 2010 at 12:27 am

Made me laugh!
.-= Theresa´s last blog ..giveaway: running home cd =-.

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