Valentine’s Day

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

My birthday parties when I was young all had a Valentine’s theme. Since my birthday is only three days before Valentine’s this always made sense to me. Therefore I now get super excited when, the day after Christmas, I see Valentine’s coming out. I love the spring flowers, the heart shapes, the classroom valentines, all of it makes me smile.

Since I became an adult, however, Dale and I either celebrate one or the other, not both. I usually want to celebrate my birthday because I know the flowers that he would get me on my birthday are cheaper than the ones available afterwards. It bothers me that the cost of everything goes up for one day. Today as I went to the store, I saw men of all ages carrying bouquets of flowers. As I placed my purchases in the car I watched as an older man parked behind me filled out cards and put them in the bouquets he had bought. I smiled at the sweet gesture.

Tomorrow I will spend the bulk of the day in the kitchen. I am planning a nice dinner for the two of us. I am looking forward to making a nice meal as a gesture of my love for Dale. Of course it won’t be much different from other evenings where I cook, and honestly, every time I cook it’s an act of love for him.

When I think of this day, many memories flood my mind. They are sweet memories and I smile as I reminisce.

There is one valentine I cherish. I didn’t receive it on February 14th, it came on April 18th. That day I received the greatest gift ever given to mankind. I received the gift of salvation.

God gave His only son to die for me. Jesus thought of me on the cross. As a parent, (especially the past few weeks), I agonize when my daughters are going through difficult times. Neither of them has come to the point of giving their life for others. The Father in heaven watched as Jesus died for us. He watched as Jesus took on the sin of all mankind. This is the ultimate act of love. It is the greatest Valentine gift ever given.

Gift Wrapping

47 years ago, Dale thought about investing in the 3M company. It was the first year he saw me actually wrapping gifts. I loved using tape. Every corner was crisp and clean and sealed with tape. It became a running joke throughout our marriage, especially at Christmastime.

Wrapping gifts was my favorite part of Christmas. I love the paper, the ribbon, and the tape. I’d never tire of wrapping and even volunteered to help others with their wrapping. People considered me odd. I was always disappointed when the last gift was brought out of the bag and was finished. Everything was wrapped in stockings also. Little bows of ribbon adorned each stocking gift.

Yes, I know it was excessive. It was me. Put me in a room by myself and I was close to heaven. I would pray over each gift for the person receiving the gift. I still do that.

This year the tape use was down by 90%. The ribbons? Just a bow tied on. No little ornaments tied to them. Stockings? Half wrapped and some just thrown into them.

I finished wrapping most of the gifts we are giving this evening. I am sore and tired. I haven’t gone to all bags, but it was tempting tonight.

I whined about a sore back during dinner. I left my mess laying in the dining room. I will get to it later on. I put the packages under the family tree, but didn’t spend several minutes making it look perfect. I may do that later this week.

I was amazed at the difference even from last year. I never thought I would get this way.

As I pondered this, it occurred to me that the fussy ribbons and bows are just window dressing. Important, yes, but not necessary.

From that thought came the remembrance that the most precious gift I ever received was not wrapped. It had no tags on it. No beautiful ribbons. None of that. In fact, the most precious gift I have received came from a brutal and messy situation. The Giver of that gift died for me. The little baby that we celebrate this time of the year was born to die for us. Was born to give us salvation. Was born to be tortured and beaten and crucified for me.

I have recognized this each year. Yet, it hit me a bit differently this year. I think of the Grinch, who realized that ““Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”

Perhaps we all need to think about this. That infant that we pause to think of during this season, is the reason we give the gifts. We try to find the perfect toy, the perfect outfit, the perfect whatever. When what we are meaning with gifts is a reminder that we love people, love family, love those who have stood beside us during the year. We give because we have an example of the perfect gift.

““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)