My parents made Valentine’s Day as much about family, as romantic love.
Every year, we would write a letter to each member of our family telling them what we loved about them.
It was required, not optional.
There may have been some whining and resistance – which may come out in some of the letters – we may not have been feeling the love when we wrote them. But, I have kept them all and they are a treasure.
There’s this one, from my sister: “I love you because you usually play games with me. You also read books to me, sometimes.”
There was the one my little sister wrote as a tween mostly in acronyms (you know stuff like “it’s good 2 B UR sister”), and the one my little brother wrote about Tarzan, Jane and stratus clouds – I’m sure it was a symbolic story of how much he loved me.
There are ones from my parents that I reread when I need encouragement or a reminder of who I am.
My mom later told me that she wanted us to know that we were loved, especially by our siblings, even if we didn’t always say it out loud.
I’ve continued the tradition in my own family.
My five -year-old wrote to his dad. “Broken hearts are fixed by Daddy-O”.
I love to see what they come up with.
It’s not always perfect. “Thanks for being my sister. You’re cool.” are sometimes all we get.
When a child is feeling stuck, I prompt them with:
What’s your favorite memory with that person….
Name your five favorite things about him.
Sometimes we have to force traditions, and that’s okay.
Words written and kept – can wrap around us, heal us, make us laugh, and keep us connected.
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