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Another Day in the Country

How many did you get?

© Another Day in the Country

Remember when you were in grade school and on Valentine’s Day you’d count how many Valentine’s you received — hoping one was from the boy you had a secret crush on? This year, I received exactly four Valentines in the mail, two more delivered in person, and several texts — one with sparkles! 

I remember many a Valentine’s Day that was more like Big Disappointment Day than Celebration Day. I would want something fun to happen — something I hadn’t planned, maybe a surprise. But, I’d married the wrong man to expect that kind of planning ahead.

The last few years, here in Kansas, our Valentine’s expectation was to plan a party for four. My sister Jessica is always the host, and I help. Valentine’s Day is Jessica’s favorite day of the year. 

She brings out all of her red, heart-shaped dishes and lovely goblets, fancy plates and polished silverware, and linen napkins with porcelain-rose rings — all for this once-a-year celebration.

Not only is the house decorated, the front of the house is, too. I remember two years ago when it snowed on Valentine’s Day and she had put bright red hearts on what we call Junior’s Memorial Privet Hedge, gracing both sides of her entry walk.

Can you imagine how beautiful the green privet looked, dusted liberally with snow and with red hearts shining through?

Even though there are only four of us at this annual party, we dress up — anything festive and red. It’s a lot of fun! Jess especially looks forward to it — even though she does most of the cooking. It’s her day!

It didn’t happen this year. One of our friends has a new man in her life, and he trumped the day — in fact, the weekend — understandably.

“So what are we going to do this year?” we sisters asked each other.

“Get involved with other things,” Jess said.

The courthouse crew was having a Valentine’s Day breakfast, so Jess joined that celebration, making scones with lemon curd. The office gang also decided to bring treats on the 14th, so Jess made a raspberry-topped chocolate cheesecake.

I decided to take Valentine’s to the kids in art. We made a list of people who we thought might need a Valentine and sent them off in the mail. We delivered surprises to family and friends. We bought ourselves Valentine flowers and made centerpieces for our tables. I decorated a credenza with hearts and flowers and added pictures of those I love. We were on a roll.

“You know,” my sister said as we were driving home from delivering Valentine treats to loved ones, “I’m so glad that someone decided to set aside a special day to just give out love. It’s also a good time to count all the ways we’ve been loved in our lifetime.”

“Hmmm,” I contemplated silently. 

That bouquet of flowers that I bought was a wild assortment: green hydrangea, pink carnations, blue larkspur, purple chrysanthemum, yellow sunflowers, orange lilies, and the strangest of all, orange thistle blossoms.

“Imagine what it took for me to get these flowers,” I said to Jess as I arranged them in a vase. “Who grew them and picked them, packaged, and shipped them? All those hands caring for these flowers, and here in the middle of winter in Ramona, Kansas, population 100 plus or minus, I’ve got this lovely mix of blooms to put on my table.”

We can count our blessings all year round, but I think Valentine’s Day is a nice reminder to give thanks. 

One year, at a college where I used to work, someone came up with the idea of providing roses for $1 each at the student center. They could include a note with a personal message and a courier service to deliver the rose on campus. We did a brisk business.

There were tubs of dozens and dozens of roses all over the student lounge, a table strewn with note cards and ribbon, and excited “cupids” delivering single roses to hundreds of recipients.

Each person could send one rose to as many people as he or she could afford. There was just something magical about that single rose appearing with a message attached. It was the sweetest outpouring of gratitude to and from teachers, students, administrators — all sending one rose at a time to say, “Thank you.” 

We often do that: “thanx,” or “I appreciate you,” with cookies around town, but I’m wondering if giving a single rose to a neighbor or someone across town on Valentine’s Day next year might not be a nice touch for Ramona, on another in the country.

Last modified Feb. 24, 2022

 

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