Tuesday, February 2, 2016

{For the Love} of Love

I know. I do this every year. But the fact remains that Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday - not because of the sparkly, flowery, chocolate-coated-ness of it (I mean, I like that too...) but because of the sudden inspiration and availability of notes and cards and fun things for expressing love.

See what I mean about availability? February is the only time I'm going to find that washi tape!

Though she hadn't ever heard of The Five Love Languages (that's Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch), my Mum did an excellent job of teaching me how speak all of those languages. If you love someone, you tell them what they mean to you, get (or make) them little treats, spend time with them, cook them a nice meal, and give them a hug. There wasn't really a distinction between them - all went under the header of demonstrated love.

She was great to leave notes - for me, on my chair at breakfast or in the little mailbox on my bedroom door, and for my dad, in his lunchbox - and she passed on that passion. Now, throughout the year I collect cute "love" themed cards and stash them away in a heart-shaped chocolate tin, so that when the impulse strikes, I have the perfect card at hand. That's augmented with a couple of pads of sticky-notes with cute/sweet/sappy sentiments already on them. (It's my plan to leave some sort of note somewhere for Adam to find every day leading up to Valentine's Day - shh, don't tell him!)

And, something you can do right now from the comfort of wherever-you're-reading-this-at is to send a little love to a patient at Arkansas Children's Hospital, here! You can choose from several designs and personalize your message (or choose a pre-written message, if you have no idea what to say), and they'll print it out and make sure it brightens a child's day.

adorable Fair Trade gift set from Mercy House
[image via Mercy House]

A few goodies from one of my favorite local artisans...
[image via Bella Vita Jewelry]

For a minimalist, I also love all that glitters and smells nice and tastes good! But over the past few years, I've also come to realize that my wants shouldn't come at the expense of someone else's needs (or humanity). Enter fair trade and local! There are an increasing number of unique, amazing, beautiful options (above are a couple of my favorites). I've finally talked/written/Instagrammed enough about this particular passion that it's becoming a defining trait - and I'm more than okay with that!

My favorite incarnation of Gifts, growing up, was doorknob surprises (think "may basket," but not just on May Day). After we moved away from Fayetteville, that's become treats in the mail. Notes, books, magazines, stationery, oddments, snacks, accessories, a picnic-in-a-box... for occasions ranging from Birthday to Butterfly Day (made-up family holiday) to I Saw This and Thought of You. I'm still waiting for a good reason to send a Frisbee (did you know that you can do that? As is, no envelope... also records and flip flops).

Quality time was another thing my family did well - game nights, hikes, roadtripping adventures. I still love walks and zoos and museums and drives, not so much for the sake of the thing itself, but because of what it represents - an opportunity to talk, to learn more about each other, to share a common experience and common joy, or to simply share the same silence. Ultimately, quality time requires little in the way of props or effort, and only a willingness to fully engage with another person (or people).

Acts of service is my weakest point, and Adam's strongest. I will gladly write you a poem, go for a walk, snuggle on the couch (my personal favorite), or buy you a new pair of earbuds after you accidentally run yours through the washer - but he is so good to cook amazing meals, clean and vacuum if he's home while I'm not, and get up with Brooklyn when she wakes up at night (to name a few). I was sick over the weekend, so he sweetly tucked me into bed and took both Littles to church - so that he could take notes on the sermon for me, and so that I would be able to rest in greater peace. 

All of that to say, there are so many wonderful ways to tell the person you love that you love them! And not just on Valentine's Day (or Valentine's month ;), or their birthday, or your anniversary - sometimes we most need to know we're loved when we least expect to hear it. I'd love to hear a few of your favorite ways, as well. :)

2363. Mum coming to pick us up and bring we-three to Fayetteville for a last-minute overnight trip
2364. Brooklyn and Tobin hanging out with my parents for over four hours (a record for Tobin) while I helped a friend with the final stages of moving
2365. Her inviting me into that process, instead of pretending to be okay and trying to deal with it alone
2366. Relationships with local business owners
2367. Quiet time on the corner of the Square on a beautiful sunny morning
2368. Walking and cookies and talking and tea
2369. Waking up (without an alarm) in time to get everyone ready for an appointment
2370. Brooklyn and Tobin's patience at the not-very-kid-friendly tax office (especially since Brooklyn wasn't feeling well)
2371. A gorgeous evening for a walk at the park
2372. Adam looking after Brooklyn and Tobin and taking them to church while I stayed home
2373. Leftover anti-nausea medicine
2374. Going to bed early
2375. A day with nowhere to be
2376. Tobin escaping whatever bug the rest of us passed around
2377. Feeling noticeably better by day's end

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