In 2003, a group of actors from the UK came together and made a little feel-good movie called Love Actually.
The film opens at the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. We see, as Hugh Grant put it, “Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends,” and sisters and brothers embrace one another.
All are smiling; all know love.
Our week ahead has a theme—a theme called love. Florists are armed and ready with red and pink roses. Drugstore shelves boast all sizes of heart-shaped boxes filled the chocolates.
Kids are making their Valentine boxes to take to school. They sneak handfuls of conversation hearts, barely noticing messages like, “Be Mine” and “Too Sweet” and “Hug Me” before popping them into their mouths.
The first love of my life was also my first Valentine. Each February 14th, I’d find a card and a box of Raisinets® leaning against a bud vase holding a yellow rose—all from my father.
I cherished his thoughtfulness, but Valentine’s Day didn’t teach me about love. After all, Dad didn’t give my brothers flowers and candy, but they knew he loved them.
Valentine’s Day puts a lot of emphasis on romantic love. I’ll never devalue thumping hearts, sweating palms, and swooning heads.
Just thinking about it makes me dizzy, but heart-skipping romance is only one kind of love.
My first dose of love was big—HUGE. It came long before I dreamed of my first kiss. It actually came way before I was conscious of the world around me.
My parents gifted me love from the start—a lifelong investment with priceless dividends. In the beginning, I didn’t see it, but I felt it.
Love is changing diapers day in and night out. Love is 3 AM feedings and cuddling afterward. Love is reading a child a story, then singing her to sleep.
Love is going places you don’t want to go and doing things you don’t want to do because those places and things are important to your child, your husband, your mother.
I witnessed tender glances between my parents. I watched them reap the rewards of making up after arguments.
I recognized love in the way my mother and dad eagerly anticipated visiting their parents. I heard love in the gentle laughter they shared with brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts.
I watched all the above fold their arms around friends. I saw how they unselfishly veered away from their own agendas to reach out and help others in times of need.
One should never make light of the kind of love that binds parents and children, brothers and sisters, and grandparents and grandchildren.
My four-year-old nephew Abe—Abe the Babe—knows that the foundation for every form of love is built at home. At least that’s what he told the nurses at his preschool check-up last month—in a roundabout way.
It doesn’t seem fair to have to endure two vaccinations at a well-checkup, but Abe said, “I got two shots, Aunt Genny, and I didn’t even ‘cwry.’”
He also had his first eye exam.
The nurse pointed to a picture of a sailboat. Abe said, “Sailboat.”
She pointed to a triangle. Abe said, “Triangle.”
Again the nurse pointed, this time to a heart. Abe said, “LOVE.”
Country artist Tom T. Hall sang it best:
“…You can’t see it with your eyes,
Hold it in your hand.
But like the wind, it covers our land,
Strong enough to move the heart of any man,
This thing called love.
It can lift you up,
Never let you down,
Take your world and turn it all around,
Ever since time, nothing’s ever been found,
That’s stronger than love.”
Oh, that thing called love.