For single people, as flowers and candy and balloons are delivered to everyone with a significant other, it is very easy to feel singled-out (no pun intended).
In all actuality, I was very happy being a single twenty-and-thirty something. I had a full calendar, a job I loved, great friends, and I never gave my marital status much thought until Valentine's Day, when I was overloaded by those once-a-year matchmakers.
With a polite smile stamped on my face, I would thank them for their efforts to get me "to the alter" while willing myself not to have a complete melt down if one more person patted my hand while giving me a tilted-head-tight-smile sigh. How do you politely tell someone that you aren't interested in a date with their sister's brother-in-law's best friend's cousin who "would be just perfect for you."
Well, I did find the one who was just perfect for me and married him. Now Valentine's Day isn't so eye-rolling for me, but being a former-Valentine's Day-hating-single girl, I try to keep it low key for all those singles trying to fly under the radar on cupid's day like I once did.
Keith and I are pretty laid back about the day. We usually exchange some sort of happy (this year, I got him a gift card to Bass Pro Shop, and he bought me perfume) and have dinner. Most of the time, we cook together at the house, but this year, we attended the annual Valentine banquet at our church, Moore Memorial United Methodist. We had a great time eating a fantastic meal and playing games with friends - married and single.
Back in school, I remember loving Valentine's Day with school parties with pink and white cupcakes and decorating shoeboxes in hearts and doilies as a makeshift mailbox for Valentine's cards. I just loved those little cards - "I am crazy for you," "You are special," "I think you're GREAT." I would spend the night before the Valentine's party signing cards for all of my classmates. At the party, I would deliver the cards to everyone's shoebox and excitedly sit down to see what my box held. I always had a Valentine from every classmate.
Back then in the innocence of childhood, Valentine's Day was a day to show your love and appreciation to your friends and family. As I grew older, that meaning got deluded into a romantic love-fest that makes most single people cringe.
My uncle, Bob Cannon, was recently recognized in Memphis' Commercial Appeal newspaper for his Valentine's ministry.
Married to my father's youngest sister, Karen, Uncle Bob is that uncle. The loud one. The fun one. The oh-my-Lord-what-will-he-say-next one. He is the one that keeps you in stitches.
When you meet Uncle Bob, and Aunt Karen for that matter, you are officially a friend for life. He is seriously unforgettable.
In 1995, the husband of dear family friend passed away just before Valentine's Day. Uncle Bob delivered a Valentine's package to the grieving widow, with the card signed from her late husband and himself. From that small gesture of kindness, Uncle Bob's annual Valentine ministry was born.
Today, Uncle Bob delivers Valentine's packages to a number of widows from his church and in his neighborhood. The card is always signed the same - the late husband's name is first, followed by Uncle Bob's own name.
Over the years, my Aunt Karen has gotten involved as well. In the Commercial Appeal article, she said after she saw a $300 charge for expensive gourmet chocolates on the credit card bill, she decided she should do the Valentine's shopping.
"I told Bob, 'You've got to love your little Valentine's ladies a little cheaper,'" Aunt Karen said.
Aunt Karen even makes up the Valentine's baskets, but Uncle Bob still writes his own love notes and makes his own deliveries around Memphis.
I am proud that Uncle Bob delivers a little love to those who have lost their husbands, especially on a day that can bring smiles and tears. For someone who used to think Valentine's Day was painful before meeting the love of my life, I can't even imagine Valentine's Day after losing that love.
It makes me giggle that my Uncle Bob is the cupid of Memphis, but after thinking about it, he really is kind of perfect for the job - boisterous, smiling, and without reservation. I am also not surprised by his kindness -- that is one of the reasons he is so unforgettable.
So in the true spirit of St. Valentine, the Catholic Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, and young people, get hit by Cupid Bob's Valentine arrow and spread the love all year long. You don't have to establish your own Valentine's ministry to give a hug, make a call, or show a little kindness to your friends and neighbors.