“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love.”— Henry Miller
Every February 14, Valentine’s Day gives us a chance to remember those we love with cards, flowers, jewelry, romantic dinners, etc.
And chocolate. Did I forget to mention chocolate? More than 58 million pounds of the stuff is sold during Valentine’s week. Brings to mind the old quip by Charles Schulz: “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
At any rate, the origin of the holiday and the saint for whom it is named are both shrouded in some mystery. At least two Christian clerics named Valentine lived during the 3rd century A.D., and both are said to have been martyred on February 14. Others think that mid-February was chosen as St. Valentine’s feast day as a way to Christianize a pagan fertility festival that took place on February 15.
What we do know is that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France, and Valentine’s Day became associated with love and romance during the 14th century. According to history.com, the oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415.
From there, it has grown to what it is today. About 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day second only to Christmas as the most popular card-sending holiday. It’s clearly a popular holiday, and, let’s face it, one you had been not forget if there is a significant other in your life.
Something else we know about Valentine’s Day: it’s not only for those celebrating or hoping for a romantic relationship; it’s a day to celebrate friends, family members, and other loved ones. We know this even from our own experiences going back to grade school. Kids excitedly pack up their cards and little Sweetheart candies and exchange them at school.
Love and valentines are something that we never outgrow either. I’ve never seen my mom, or any other senior for that matter, turn one down. In fact, they are usually quite excited. We’ve written before how seniors often feel lonely and isolated as they age. Remind the elderly loved ones in your life how much you love them and how much they mean to you.
It doesn’t take much. Send a note. Share a treat. Watch a movie together. Give them a call. Take them out if that is a possibility. You know them better than anyone. There’s that saying about how kids spell love: T-I-M-E. Pretty amazing, but I find that is how a lot of us spell love, including the seniors in our lives.
We know this isn’t easy for everyone. Things happen. Life happens. Family dynamics takeover. Just remember that love is often an act of the will, a choice that we make. Caregivers know this as much, or perhaps more, than anyone. Sometimes they share a story or two about their family or childhood, yet we see them persist in their love and care for their elderly loved ones.
The love shown by some of the families that we work with never ceases to amaze me. It is the kind of love that St. Paul describes in his famous passage on the subject: “Love is patient, love is kind. . . . It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. . . . It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!!