Forgive my tardiness. Yesterday seemed to get away from me. It is with great excitement that I post another guest contribution from reader Melody. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on love and responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge.”
Here is her response.
Home is where the heart is. It’s cliche, but it’s so true. Today is Valentine’s Day and I love Valentine’s Day. As a little girl Dad always made sure that Mom had roses and a big box of chocolates, while my sister and I were gifted a single red rose and a tiny heart box of chocolates, It wasn’t the flowers and candy that made me love Valentine’s Day though. It was the town I grew up in.
Loveland, CO is the Sweetheart City, and it lives up to it’s name. I’ve lived all over the United States and small towns everywhere put up Christmas decor on their streetlights; declaring to the community there is a reason to celebrate. And while that happens in Loveland at Christmas, what truly made it special to me were the February streetlights, happily decked out with giant red hearts. You could pay to have a special Valentine’s message placed on one for all the world to see. My memories are crowded with images from childhood. Sitting in the back seat of the car driving down Eisenhower next to Lake Loveland, I would dream of the day I’d see my name on one of those beautiful ruby hearts.
I haven’t lived in Loveland for 18 years now. My parents moved to Oregon 11 years ago. And every February my heart grows a little bit heavy with the missing of my hometown. Last March I returned to Loveland for a funeral. I stayed with family friends and saw lots of friends and I was reminded that there is no place on earth my heart feels more at home than in my beloved sweetheart city. The friends I have there are extensions of my family, the mountains sing to my soul of freedom and peace, and the streetlights proclaim loudly that love is here and love is good.
With memories and relationships rekindled this has been as year filled with Loveland stories for my friends here in NM and my husband. And so as this Valentine’s Day approached I was excited to once again try to make my kid’s memories as special as my childhood ones but also filled with wistful dreams of streetlight hearts. We gave the kids their gifts and cards this morning and faced the usual morning rush to get to school. I left 15 minutes later than I wanted to but that was ok. As I rounded a corner a couple blocks from my home I did a double take. There on the streetlight was a red, hand painted, cardboard heart reading “Moose loves Moosette” I took a deep breath and choked back the tears. My Valentine fulfilled my childhood dream. And it doesn’t matter that I’m not in Loveland this Valentine’s Day. Home is where the heart is; and today I found that my heart could be home wherever I am because the love I carry from the people and places I have loved is always with me.
“Loveland, Colorado sure knows how to celebrate Valentine’s Day! I moved to Loveland just over a year ago and I’ve enjoyed experiencing all of the unique traditions the city has related to the holiday, including the ubiquitous hearts posted on street signs across town and of course all of the “love-themed” beers on tap at the breweries. But my favorite tradition is sending hand-written Valentines to my family through Loveland’s Valentine re-mailing program. I’ve made it a tradition to personally deliver my letters to the special red mailbox located at the downtown post office branch (appropriately called the “Valentine” branch!) where the letters are stamped with a special message from the Sweetheart City before being mailed.
The part that I find most beautiful about this tradition is the process and the time it requires. As I wrote each Valentine, I took a moment to think about the recipient and to appreciate how much joy and love they give me! Even as I walked over to the post office, my heart was full of love as I took the time to reflect on the various ways these people have shown me so much love over the past year. Life moves so fast and it’s easy to let “love” be just a passing thought or a common phrase that we add to our daily speech. For me, “love” becomes truly special when I slow down to appreciate, reflect on and share in sending the love.”
If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on love, or responding to the “Where Your Heart is Challenge”, send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. Accepting entries until 2.14.17