Monday, February 9, 2009

From Russia with Love

I watched in awe as Olga and Irena like kids in a candy store, selected flowers, treats, and packages of valentines to share with friends and family. The enthusiasm of my visitors from Russia transported me back to my childhood when decorating a shoe box in preparation for receiving classmate's valentines was the highlight of a long winter stretch between Christmas and spring vacation. 

Like many I became jaded over the years and had spurned Valentine's Day as just an excuse to buy Hallmark. I had forgotten the simple pleasure of a bright spot in the midst of darkness. When I was about ten, my mother surprised me with a Story Book doll dressed in red and white holding a red felt heart. A boyfriend once sent me a bouquet of long stemmed red roses arranged perfectly in a box tied with a satin ribbon. After college, I had a friend who went all out on her favorite holiday making unique cards for the special people in her life. When my son was five or six, he scattered hundreds of hearts he had cut from pink, red, and white construction paper in every corner of the house. We were still finding them at Halloween.

Since the midwinter visit from those two Russian friends, I have rekindled the special memories of an otherwise overworked holiday. I now enjoy sending valentines to bring color into the lives of those I love. It all goes back to the day when I was humbled by Olga's simple statement, "A country that sets aside a day to celebrate love must be a good place." 

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