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girl making heart with hands at the beach

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When I was a little girl, every Valentines Day morning I would rub the sleep from my eyes and go downstairs to breakfast. Awaiting each of us kids would be a gift from my mother. Somehow, each year I would forget that this would happen and be completely surprised and filled with glee as I opened my present.

The favorite Valentine gift that I remember receiving was a set of Holly Hobby sheets. I was in third grade, and I was over the moon.

The thing that made this tradition especially important is that Valentines Day is the day after my mom’s birthday. I’m not sure we ever made the big deal about her birthday that she made about us the day after. Sadly, this is probably still true today. Why just this week I made a mad dash to the post office the day before Mom’s birthday, mad at myself, knowing that the card would not get there in time. I mean, how hard is it really to get a card off with three days to spare? Evidently, for me, really, really hard. (It might make sense for me to simply change everyone’s birthdays to seven days early.)

Anyway, even with all the late birthday cards over the years, my mother has never stopped this Valentines Day tradition, though the gifts now are often checks or a bit of money stuck into the card, probably because of how far away we all live from her.

The real gift for me – whether Valentines Day or my birthday or Christmas – is the card.

My mother is one of the world’s greatest card picker-outers. I don’t know how long it must take her to choose just the right card for each family member on her list. Hours, I would imagine, by the time all the names are checked off.

Here’s a recent card my mom sent me. (I just had a good cry reading it.) The copywriting is courtesy of Hallmark:

Daughter: What I Love About You

I love the spirit of you, the grace with which you welcome each challenge, the childlike wonder that still colors your days. I love the originality of you … your willingness to stand out from the crowd … your unique perspective on what’s happening in the world and in your life. And most of all, I love the heart of you … the genuine compassion, empathy and friendship you offer to everyone you know. I guess it’s pretty clear … I love everything about you. And I’m wishing joy and blessings to you, my beautiful daughter and friend. Love, Mom

It wasn’t until I read this card that I had a profound realization: my mother really, truly understands who I am and what I’m about. I’m not sure that’s a very common thing among parents and their children, let alone between lovers.

She totally gets me.

I feel so grateful for this. I feel accepted and deeply understood.

For whatever reason, I haven’t had a sweetheart on Valentines Day in many years, but that doesn’t matter. Through her thoughtfulness, my mother taught me that I am loved unconditionally by at least one person on this earth. Who could ask for more?