There won’t be any fancy restaurant meals. No bouquets; no boxes of chocolates; no wine. There won’t be any folded papers with written words of admiration; no candy, trinkets, or lollipop hearts.There will be no things. But, there has been much love.
I woke up this morning to breakfast in bed. It wasn’t fancy: an apple and some cereal “with goat milk because I know you don’t like soy.” I enjoyed it more than I have ever enjoyed a breakfast.
“And in case you’re worried, Mommy, I’m already dressed, my bed is made, my teeth and hair are brushed, and I’m ready for school.”
But even nicer than the breakfast and a morning free of nagging was the smile on my daughter’s face. Nobody gave her the idea. Nobody helped her do it, and she certainly wasn’t acting on a preconceived notion of “what you’re supposed to do on Valentine’s Day.” She wanted to show me love in her own way. And that she did.
Last year Aurora made Valentines cards from scratch. They were stunning (in my humble and unbiased opinion). The hours spent cutting, gluing, and labelling each one allowed her to practice her writing and, most importantly, to practise the awesome art of giving. I know she enjoyed the receiving part as well.
Cards are great. I have nothing against them. But still, they all–even the homemade ones–end up as garbage (or hopefully recycling) in short order.
This year, we could have made something from the craft supplies still in our house, but Aurora had another idea. We’ve been talking about how to show love in ways other than giving things, and Aurora wanted to take this concept into her classroom.
“Instead of cards, I’m going to put on a magic show for my friends,” she said.
Aurora’s been learning magic tricks from YouTube. She’s practised them a lot, and is getting pretty good.
“Great idea!” I said.
We rehearsed a little routine and with a magician’s mask, a deck of cards, and a note for the teacher, off she went.
To be honest, I’ve been worried. I’m worried about the other kids. Worried about breaking conventions. Worried that a magic show might not be seen as worthy, and worried that my daughter’s feelings might get hurt.
All day yesterday I kept asking, “Are you sure you don’t want to make some cards as well?”
“No, Mommy. I’m doing the magic show!”
I admire her conviction. (But fear her naivety.)
Today, she came home for lunch. “Have you done your show yet?” I asked. “No,” she answered and went on to say, “The other kids kept saying, ‘Aurora you haven’t given me anything,’ but I said, ‘No! I’m doing a magic show!'”
Her enthusiasm was unscathed. Bless her.
Perhaps it takes a child to remind us that simply because something is expected doesn’t mean it’s truly valued. Who says we must exchange cardboard squares (and now candy and other paraphernalia) as tokens of our friendship? Why have we allowed the giving of things to become more entrenched in our cultural traditions than the giving of talents, services, or time?
And, moreover, why should we so fear the reactions of others that we would rather give something out of expectation than allow ourselves the freedom to give of ourselves from the best of what we have to offer as individuals?
Dearest Aurora, you are a ground shaker in your own little world. You inspire me. You teach me. You love me. And I love you always.
Still, as I sit here typing and watching the clock count down to 3:30pm, I worry. I hope the magic show went well. I hope the kids liked it. I hope they will remember it and perhaps tell their parents so that the other moms won’t think I’m disorganized and lazy for not sending cards to school with my kid on Valentine’s Day.
I really shouldn’t care, but I do.
Someday, I’d like to be more like my daughter. I’d like to give freely and creatively regardless of what others think.
This year is a good year to start practising.