Everybody’s Got a Mailbox


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I actually have a photo of six-year-old me on February 14. My dark hair is pulled into two pigtails, each adorned with a lacy bow. I am wearing a white turtleneck with pink cupids dancing along the frills at the shoulder. I am beaming, because it is my favourite day.

Valentine’s Day.

Thirty years later, I still love this darn day. I really do. And my enjoyment has not evolved much from the sensibilities of a kindergartener. I delight in the fluttering red and blush paper hearts after dreary January. I live for the copious amounts of chocolate and the bags of spicy cinnamon hearts, which I unabashedly crunch all month long. Of course, at the heart of it, today is about love. There is something so beautifully profound about a day to show love. A day that inspires us to press pause on our to-do lists, and express gratitude for our friends and family. A day to remember those who have weathered life’s most devastating storms with their hand firmly in ours. A day to send thoughtful cards and texts and fifty-pound teddy bears.

In grade school, giving and receiving Valentine’s Day cards was the hands-down highlight. I agonized over choosing valentines for each of my friends, and couldn’t wait to deliver my cards to their mailboxes. Of course, by mailbox I mean a folded over piece of construction paper.

The one thing I remember about crafting those cards is that I had to make a valentine for every single person in my class. I made one for my best friend. And for the girl who always scored higher than me on math tests. I picked one for the boy who made fun of me every morning on the bus. And for that weird kid who ate vanilla Lip Smackers.

Everyone got one. The assumption of the day was that everyone deserved a valentine. Everyone deserved to feel included and loved. That’s a pretty revelatory concept. Most adults have a hard time grasping it. And yet every kindergartener is doing it today without a second thought.

So, that’s where my head is at today. What would it mean to love in a way that taps into the unexpected? That makes me a little uncomfortable? I love the warm and fuzzy as much as anyone, but I want to push past the easy love I can so readily get swept up in.

There’s a lot I can do to expand my cookie cutter version of this day. For me, this is what it looks like to show revelatory love:

  • Letting go of an offence I’ve been carrying for a long time.
  • Refusing to go for the kill shot the next time my husband and I get in an argument.
  • Making a donation to an organization showing up for the poor and marginalized.
  • Visiting someone who let me down recently, and letting her know I am still here for her.
  • Refusing to be overwhelmed by the pain in the world, and finding just one singular thing to tilt the axis towards good.
  • Writing a a kind note to a person who believes very differently than me (and has the Facebook rants to prove it.)
  • Calling a friend I know has been feeling lonely lately.
  • Reminding myself that I too am worthy of love and grace.

Instead of showing up in ways that make me feel good, I want to be on the look out for messy love today. I want my eyes to be extra open for those who are struggling, or feeling neglected or who just need someone—anyone—to remind them of their worth. I want to pay attention to the souls who cross my path today, if only for a moment. And I especially need to remember those individuals I find a wee bit difficult to love, and do it anyway.

I want to approach this day as though everyone is wearing a folded piece of construction paper on their chest. Everyone’s got a mailbox. Everyone deserves a valentine. Everyone deserves to feel loved.

Though I will always enjoy the surface-level sweetness this day has to offer, I’m showing up for a different reason this Valentine’s Day. I’m showing up for love that is wildly impractical. That is hard-as-heck. That is real and uncomfortable and completely un-fuzzy.

Everybody’s in.