Day Ten: Quick Valentines. Dress up some store-bought candy with stickers and then hide them in places where they can be found.
Ok, this one is for all those people out there who are last minute OR have teenagers OR both. You know who you are!
I think my 17 year old still likes getting a Valentine from his mom. But… you can never be too sure. My hunch is, he’d be so sad if I didn’t do Valentines–but only as long as I don’t stage some flashy public display that would embarrass him. So, yes to the candy. No to the balloon delivery at college.
I would never do that, for the record. But you get my point. They’re temperamental creatures, handle with care. And if they don’t have a Valentine of their own this year, all the more reason to carefully litter their world with love.
But this is also great idea for you last minute Valentine people! All you need are some stickers and an imagination. Everybody likes a bit of chocolate, but you certainly don’t have to limit it to candy. Replace the fruit label on their orange or apple with a heart sticker and toss it into a lunch bag. Or sneak a heart sticker onto a much used water bottle, or on the front of a credit card in a wallet. Just make sure your sticker is someplace it will get seen.
Like, say, a backpack!
(I took took this photo this morning while he was running around getting ready for class. I don’t even think he noticed me standing there with a camera!)
The upside to a simple sticker, is that if your teen finds this “love memo” in a very public place (like the cafeteria!) it’s not nearly as embarrassing as a writing all over their lunch stack, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. XOXOXO MOM.”
And if you’re the last minute type, well– a sneaky little sticker might just save your holiday. (PS, if your local store is all sold out of Valentine themed stickers, check out your local business supply store. They often have gold foil heart stickers all year round!)
Still a little weepy with gratitude.
Sometimes, God can surprise and delight you. But I’ll be honest, lately–that hasn’t felt true. It’s been all those cliches about hard-times around here: roller coasters. Deep water. High tides. Creek–no paddle. If it can go wrong, it has. If it hasn’t, give it time. I don’t talk about it, because I just don’t have time to stop and cry. Is that a good thing?
But yesterday was one of those moments — where grace breaks through despite the overwhelming odds against it and you find yourself humbled by your place in the world and the love that is in it. Our family attended a lovely worship service at First Lutheran of Astoria where the congregation presented a quilt to our graduating son.
You should know, we’re not Lutheran and we don’t attend that church. Geo volunteers at their Day Camp in the summer and attends the youth group when he has a chance. Their youth group used to meet on Wednesdays–on the same night their church holds a community dinner. So, Geo has spent time getting to know that congregation. But we’re not a regular part of their orbit beyond that.
He’s separate. Different. He knows that. It was born out yesterday as all the youth from youth group sat together in the back of the church. He sat with his parents toward the front. A visual divide that I know he felt physically — especially since we had given a ride to church to one of those kids. It’s not that he’s not liked. It’s that he’s not a part. This isn’t his home church. He doesn’t go to school with these kids. He hasn’t journeyed with them or made memories with them. And to his credit, he’s too polite of a child to abandon his parents at church. He feels this otherness on a daily basis–and while I think he handles it with grace and gentleness, it breaks my heart. I think it breaks his too.
So, it came as quite a surprise that he would be included in this ceremony. He was overwhelmed by the invitation–and I’ll admit, it took some talking into to get him to attend. It’s not that he didn’t want a quilt–or didn’t love this congregation. He just didn’t feel like he deserved one.
The enormity of what he’s done is finally hitting him. He is nostalgic and keenly aware that life is changing–rapidly. He is also deeply moved by the love represented by that quilt. Each student was invited to pick-out which quilt they wanted ahead of time. We just happened to go select his on a day when the women were actually sewing. Many of those women, unknown to me, knew who he was and how he’s volunteered. “He’s so great with those kids! We just love him! He’ll still be around to volunteer this year, right?”
It’s a refrain we heard a lot yesterday–as people from that congregation made their way to congratulate us. Over and over again we were told how much they love him. How they have prayed for him. How they will continue to pray for him. How Geo is polite and caring and so good with kids. How they are impressed with his accomplishments. “You’ve raised such a wonderful son.”
And as our son stood, to receive his quilt and words of blessing were said by his youth leader, he began to cry. Quiet tears slipped down his face and he could not hide the unmistakable tremor he gets when he’s fighting back emotion. He finally turned and faced away from the congregation, and I think everyone in that room could feel for his struggle. This meant something to him–in ways that he still has not found words for.
But I suspect, even though he will attend a graduation ceremony for his GED on Thursday, it is this ceremony that means something to him. Where the other students will walk to “Pomp and Circumstance” played by their High School bands — in caps and gowns and speeches given by their peers. . . he will not. This is the downside of the path we chose: it lacks certain markers. Prom. Senior pictures. Graduation. Georges will tell you that he is not bothered by the lack. That the trade-off was worth it. But we all crave the recognition we deserve; the moments of celebration, where our communities tell us we are loved and honored and that they are PROUD of us.
Yesterday, he had that moment. Surrounded by love and a community of more than three, he had a moment where he knew just how loved and special and wonderful he is. It may not have been a commencement ceremony–but it was a sending forth. A blessing. And while I know Geo was chagrined to find himself overwhelmed by his own emotion: I also know that his tears were a natural response to being surprised and delighted by the abundant grace of God. It’s a natural response to encountering the enormity that is God’s Love.
So, he stood. Bathed in prayer, surrounded by love, swaddled in a quilt; he cried. And we cried with him.