One morning after a recent snowstorm, the kids and I were on our way to school when a neighbour of ours waved as we drove by. As I waved back, my five-year-old son asked who she was. Because we’re fairly new to the area (and more so because I am awful with names), I simply replied, “A neighbour.”
“Mom,” my seven-year-old daughter Maddilynn chimed in, “do you know there are two types of neighbours? The ones that live on your street, and someone you help when they’re in need.”
I would love to claim that she came to this conclusion because I am consistent in my teachings about the importance of love and philanthropy. But the truth is, this is just who she is. She often teaches me what it is to have a heart full of love.
As a single mom, my Valentine’s Days aren’t filled with romantic dinners, roses and chocolate but rather trying to remember to pack two classes worth of Valentine’s Day cards and ordering one of those super cool heart shaped pizzas for dinner.
Valentine's Day cookies made by the author, Maddy and Micah for Valentine's Day 2018
It would be easy for me to pass Valentine’s Day off as an overly commercialized holiday popularized by pricey flower shops, but Maddy’s comment has stuck with me. Why can’t I use Valentine’s Day as a backdrop to give my kids the opportunity to express their love for those around them, and to teach them about loving our “neighbours”?
With this in mind, I asked the children on our way home last night who they wanted to be their Valentine and what they were going to do to show that person love.
Reflective of their lives my son answered, “I want Maddy to be my Valentine because I’m not always very nice to her.”
Maddilynn responded that she wanted her teacher, Ms. G, to be her Valentine and she wanted to give her a gift from the World Vision Gift Catalogue.
Again, her heart amazes me. My role here at World Vision often has me asking Canadians to show their love for others by making a difference in the lives of children and families around the world. And yet, here in my own home, was a seven-year-old who has fully embraced this idea.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about the trumped up yet fleeting gifts. It can be as genuine and kind as a little girl showing her teacher she cares by helping others. Or a little brother trying, for at least one day, to not bother his sister.
So this year, although I will still probably forget to pack the class cards until after I’ve pulled out of the driveway, and there will definitely still be a heart shaped pizza, there will also be some extra love. If you are looking to add some love to your Valentine’s Day I would encourage you to give that love to someone in need, perhaps through the World Vision Gift Catalogue