Dear... Well, I don’t need to put your names down on paper. You all know who you are...
This morning when you woke up and stumbled into the kitchen for that first cup of coffee or bowl of cereal, or woke up and stumbled out to open the package sitting on the table in some other kitchen, you found a Valentine. You knew you would. I always give you a Valentine; a gift that includes a card chosen especially for you. A few chocolates, some little trinket to carry with you to remind you of me, a silly rhyme.
It’s the same little treat you get every year on this day. And, as always, I meant every one of those little Xs and Os.
This letter isn’t about that. This little note, a true love letter, is about all the other Valentines I’ve sent you. The ones you can’t see or hear or taste.
The soup we had for dinner last night? That was a Valentine. I was so tired all I really wanted to do was crawl into bed with a cup of tea and pull the covers up over my head. But I love you. And that means I take care of you. So I chopped and simmered and ladled.
The way I brush the hair out of your eyes, and talk to you in the dark before we fall asleep, well, that’s a Valentine, too. It’s just not wrapped in pretty paper.
When I didn’t lose my temper this morning after I’d already asked you to get up and get ready for school three times before you shouted down the stairs that I didn’t have to tell you again, well, that was a big one. I could have shouted something back, you know.
I don’t mean to imply that I’m a saint. I’m not. None of us are. But I just wanted to remind you that I don’t just love you one day a year. It’s much bigger than that. I love you all every minute of every day.
And, while we’re at it, I have something else I’d like to say: Thank you. For the little Valentines you each give me. The phone calls to say hello, just to reassure me that you’re ok. The way you bite your lip and keep your silence when I blow up for no reason.
For pumping gas for my car when it's cold. For helping with the dishes. For doing your homework when I ask. For the way you all carry me when I’m just not up to the task.
So, have a little chocolate. Enjoy your gift. Smile over the Xs and Os.
Have a happy Valentine's Day. And remember, Roses are Red, Violets are blue. I love you and you love me too.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. She is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons," and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org