You’ve probably noticed by now that I don’t tend to post things about holidays. (Half the time it’s because I just don’t remember the holidays exist, and the other half is that I simply don’t have anything new to say about them.) Honestly, I barely even remembered that yesterday was Valentine’s Day. (Hey, when you don’t have a significant other, you can afford to forget things like that!) Howsomediver, it seems to be the “topic of the week” so here goes.
I confess I haven’t done a very wonderful job of loving people in my lifetime. I could list off people that, when they died, I felt guilty because I had never taken the time to get to know them. I could list off people (who are still alive) that I’ve neglected or brushed off. How many times I’ve let school or work or just general laziness take a priority over people! I’ve probably said this before at some point, but people are hard work. You have to intentionally remember holidays and birthdays and intentionally wrack your brain for gifts that will make them feel special. You have to intentionally ponder how to consistently spend time together in spite of everybody’s crazy busy schedules. I tell you, it can be hard!
It can also be exciting. This week I tried something new – I mapped out specific time slots in which to spend time with specific people. Eg. Eat breakfast with the little brother, encourage him to finish his first-thing stuffs he does, and then offer to play with him in the remaining half-hour before he has to start school. And set aside a whole hour on Saturday morning just to play whatever he wants to play. (I will say, I ended up with a tiara, a cotton plant, and a hair clip made out of bread, glue, and paint all on my head at the same time. Yeup, it was a great time!)
My new method seems to be working so far. I got to spend time chatting with a nine-year-old kid over milk and cereal and yogurt, and we built a boxelder bug cage/playground/fort/thing out of LEGOs in record time. I got to take daily walks with Noelle (except for one day when it was cold and we both needed to get things done in the kitchen, so we did that instead) in which we chatted about anything and nothing. I got to spend a couple hours with bunches of adorable munchkins and bake cakes and examine a sewing machine with their older sister. And you know what I found?
Much as I enjoy writing and drawing and painting and reading and all those fun things that I like to think I’m good at, none of them can compare to people. (Yes, even if people sometimes terrify me.) Know what my favorite parts of this week were? The people. Even though half the time I botch the encounters with other humans in one way or another, my favorite things are still the people. The peanutbuttery little fingers and faces, the grinning little boy insisting I put that cotton plant in my hair, those sandy miles with just Noelle and me. And who cares about the mess the little one is making by using the drying rag on the still-dirty dishes, or the tangled hair, or the sore feet and aching hip? The people are worth it. The people are worth the sacrifice. Even if I don’t have time to write or draw because I’m busy singing a ridiculous song to a giggling nine-year-old boy and the cat he dragged into my room.
So we just finished giving giving people flowers and chocolate and sentimental cards. That’s nice once or twice a year. But love – real love that proves the flowers and chocolate and cards are sincere – can be the choice just to spend time with someone. You don’t have to do something elaborate, you just have to do something intentional. Because it’s the intentional year-round stuff with people that they’ll remember, far longer than those chocolates and flowers will ever last. I know I’ll sure remember it.