As long as I can remember, Valentine's Day has been soiled by my own fairy tale expectations and unbecoming ideas of self-importance. Even after finding and marrying my "knight in shining armor", despite being spoiled silly by him, I still carry around a clutch bag of disdain for the holiday. Now that I have two sweet young daughters to nurture and teach. I have embraced the holiday with them, trying to make some fun memories, and trying to capture the spirit of the holiday (I am not going to get into why I think this holiday was really created $$) by expressing our love and appreciation for others.
So I began my preparations: pictures - before, during, and after; handmade cards (5); handmade valentine's (lost count) for my daughter's teachers and classmates both at school and at church; decorated cut-out sugar cookies; gifts for spouse and children; delivery of all such items; and attendance at Valentines Day party at Joy school. It was so life consuming for a week and a half that I am sure I am missing things on this list! Also, I will not get into the out of the blue screaming fit of the century that my youngest daughter decided to have in the middle of the party that was so bad we were all preparing to take her to the doctor when, after about 30 minutes or so, she decided she had had enough and wanted to join in on all the fun again.
All that being said, I really am beginning to enjoy losing my own sense of self-centeredness in the service of others. I enjoy the creative art of taking pictures and I enjoy sharing them with family and friends. I enjoy making greeting cards for others. It allows me to express myself more fully and I believe it brings a bit of pleasure to the recipient (and sometimes just a little bit helps). I enjoy baking and I am excited to expose my daughters to the unlimited creations possible from the kitchen. I enjoy sharing all these creations with others and teaching my daughters to enjoy giving as well.
I realize that I do not have to get caught up in the worldliness aspects of the holidays, but the holidays can provide obvious opportunities to reach out to and serve others. The Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others. Gordon B. Hinckley stated that, "If we want joy in our hearts, if we want the Spirit of the Lord in our lives, let us forget ourselves and reach out." I am grateful for these opportunities I am having right now to learn, to stretch, and to grow.