Tags Posts tagged with "Saint Valentine’s Day"

Saint Valentine’s Day

Pixabay photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Maybe it is a Hallmark holiday, but with St. Valentine’s Day approaching, love is definitely in the air. Perhaps Chaucer started it with his poetry about Valentine’s Day in the 14th century. There have been many iterations since. At the least, it’s a time to reflect on the loves in our lives. And there are many. Let us count them together.

Saint Valentine’s Day has traditionally been associated with romantic love, as people—give each other material declarations of their affections. These start with cards, some of them originally composed and handwritten, others store bought and ceremoniously delivered. Red roses are the usual accompaniment and perhaps even generous amounts of chocolate. All of that helps to endure a cold winter’s day and night. It certainly helps the local economy.

So many other loves exist, some of them deeply in our hearts. The love we bear for our children makes for family bonding. It has been said that if children loved their parents as much as parents love their children, the human race would end because the children would never leave their homes. From the marvel at first sight of those tiny fingers and toes to the day we walk them down the aisle to start their own families, we love them, disregarding all the aggravations that happen in between. For most, this is an indissoluble love.

And yes, most of us truly love our parents, the mother who taught us to read, the father who taught us to swim. We go from thinking they are all-knowing demigods to wondering if they are the stupidest humans on earth, and ultimately to respecting them for all they have given us despite their various shortcomings. We are awed by their indestructible love for us and at the same time acknowledge that they are but human. 

We have been impressed with the number of entries for our Love My Pet section that is running in the newspapers and on the website and social media this week. We certainly love our pets, maybe because they can’t talk. And they are unfailingly loyal and forgiving. Well, dogs, are. I’m not so sure about cats. In some cases, we regard them almost as our children. 

A carpenter of undetermined ethnicity, who was doing some work in our house, once pointed to our golden retriever and proclaimed, “In my next life, I want to come back as an American dog.” 

We love our true friends, those who are there to prop us up when we fall as well as those who share our good times. We can also genuinely love our teachers. A caring teacher can make a profound difference in the direction of a child’s life. For example, my sixth grade teacher, in an unexceptional neighborhood elementary school in New York City, stayed after hours, for a few weeks, to coach half-a-dozen of us so that we might pass a citywide test for an exceptional junior high school. Two of us did, and to this day I love that woman, though after that year, I never saw her again.

We can love members of our clergy, who are predictably there for us with advice at critical times and with solace at times of deep loss. Yes, that is their job, but some do their jobs beyond measure. We can love our doctors, who take an oath to watch over our health, but again, some are deeply caring. For these people, we are more than grateful. They love us, and we love them back.

We can love the natural world around us, a world that is filled with songbirds and butterflies, squirrels and foxes, wild turkeys and seagulls to delight the senses. We love the first sight of crocuses announcing the beginning of spring and the early flowering magnolia trees. 

If we are lucky, we can truly love our jobs. For us, they are more than a source of livelihood, more even than a career. They are a calling. They propel us out of bed in the morning and often are the subject of our last thoughts as we go to sleep at night. They coax out the best in us and provide us with unique satisfaction.

Finally, we need to love our lives. Sometimes to do so takes re-contexting and perhaps re-adjustment. That love seems like a worthy goal.