My dad has given my mom the same Valentine card for the last twelve years. Some may think this isn’t very flattering, but I can assure you this is a gift of pure devotion. Have you ever tried to save a card for an entire year and remember where you put it? This card has become more than just a card, it’s a reminder of their love and a sort of time capsule of their years together. As my dad resurrects this card each year, they enjoy reading over past quotes and remembering those years and moments.
My husband and I also have a collection of letters. We started writing letters to each other in college even before we were married. It turns out our growing friendship and relationship was so meaningful to both of us, that we both saved many of these letters. When we got married and started consolidating our keepsakes, we realized both of us had a similar collection. We dumped them together in a box and labeled it Love Letters. Occasionally we will read through those letters and remember the things that first brought us together and grew our love.
Love letters aren’t just for budding relationships. Over the last few weeks, I have gotten some amazing notes from teachers and other people who received my book. Imagine the love I felt when my kindergarten teacher told me how proud she was of me. Or the love I felt when one of my mentors from the University of Minnesota called me to share her insights about my book. I love how other teachers have shared with me their favorite quotes or snapped pictures of my book on their desk. I’ve started a special box for all these love letters. I’m planning to bring them out to remind me of these growing relationships.
One thing I’ve learned about writing a book is that I don’t love everything about it. I loved writing it. I didn’t love editing it. I loved hitting the publish button. I don’t love trying to promote it. But as I think about these contrasts I’m reminded of my parents’ Valentine and my own collection of love letters. While there is love marked in those cards, there are also many moments we didn’t love. Throughout life there are ups and downs. Things we love and things we don’t. Reminding ourselves of what we love and what we are striving for often gives us the motivation we need when things are hard. It’s a way to nurture ourselves and our relationships.
I’d like to invite you to join my families love letter tradition. Write a love letter to yourself. Write what you are loving about your life right now and what you hope to grow over this next year. Write about your relationship with yourself and your own goals and give yourself all the encouragement and love you would give to a budding romance. Then put this letter somewhere where you will remember to look at it next Valentine’s Day. My dad manages to save and find the same card every year. You can do this! And then, Because of 4–because there are four people out there in the world who might really need your words of encouragement and love right now, write each of them a love letter and send it now. Tell someone, maybe your mother, father, children, or friend what you love about them or something they have recently accomplished. Imagine what we could grow by spreading this love throughout the world one person at a time. Grow what you love with a love letter.