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This is how I celebrate Valentine’s Day:  First I start with Good Intentions.  About a month before, I start thinking about all the cute Valentine’s Day related crafts I could make, the pretty banners or valentines that would be so super easy to whip up, the lovely gift packages I could put together to help various friends and relatives feel extra special (see also: Operation Valentinus).  I’ll send packages off to The Young Queen, and KJ, and to all of my sisters, with special hand-deliveries in the dark hours of the morning to those who live close by.  There will be special treats for my CL girls too, and for the ladies that I work with, and for the other people at work whom I particularly enjoy.  There will be baking involved, and possibly sewing, and ridiculously cute packaging.  There is nothing I enjoy quite so much as putting together a really nice, unexpected treat for someone else – the keeping secrets and scheming part satisfies my urge to make mischief, and seeing their joy makes me feel all self-satisfied and delighted.  So I start to build grandiose castles in the air of packages filled with gorgeous handcrafted things, etc.

Then reality kicks in.  This usually happens right around the weekend before Valentine’s Day, when I actually look at the list of ladies whom I’d like to gift, and I think something on the lines of, “Oh, wow.  That’s a lot.”  And then I realize that I haven’t even started making these lovely handcrafted things, and no matter how simple and easy Martha Stewart swears her Valentine’s Day felt tissue case is, it’s still going to take a fair chunk of time to make, say, 25 of them.  And I don’t have any free time scheduled into this weekend.  In fact, I’m going to be lucky just to get laundry done.  And then I start figuring out exactly how early I’d have to get up in the morning in order to make all those pre-dawn deliveries and still get to work on time, and that’s it.  The pretty castle in the air is well and truly tumbled down, and I switch over to figuring out how I’m going to do the things I might actually have time for.

This year that turned out to be getting one package in the mail to The Young Queen, and having some other items half-ready to distribute to my nearby family members.  I had a scheme to mail valentine notes to some of my good women friends and family in far-off places, but that never got further than putting the stamps and cards in my bag so that I would remember to do them on my lunch break (I didn’t).  But the day is far from over, and maybe when I get home from work I can at least deliver the little presents I have for my family, since most of them do live less than a block away from me and all.  We’ll see how that goes.

The one thing I always, always have time for is my annual trip to the nearest holiday aisle of a big box store to pick out the cheap valentines I traditionally inflict on absolutely everyone in my near vicinity.  I think the only time I’ve missed doing this was the year Jacob died right about a month before Valentine’s Day, and I was still walking around in a grief daze.  I used to go for the Disney Princess Valentines (though there was the year I also grabbed the box of Steve Irwin ones, complete with temporary tattoos), but more recently I’ve been trending heavily towards Star Wars.  This year I ended up with two packs of Star Wars valentines – the animated series for my swing kids, and Star Wars Lego valentines for work.  I also got a pack of Avengers valentines (with note pads!) to take to CL, even if they didn’t have Loki (hey, psychotic gods of mischief need love too, particularly when the actor playing them appear to be made entirely of sunshine and puppies and chocolate sprinkles), and a pack of Brave valentines, just because.  So far all of the Star Wars valentines are gone, and I could have used more.  I’ve broken into the pack of Brave valentines, and they’ll probably be gone before I leave work.

I’ve received a few valentines too.  My sweet Aunt M out in Seattle sent me a lovely little note that arrived a few days ago, and my always thoughtful boss left me a gift bag overflowing with coffee and tea cups for the office Keurig machine (now there’s a woman who understands the importance of caffeine).  However, the longer I’m alive, the more I come to realize that holidays are much more fun for me when I’m thinking and scheming over what I’m going to do for others, not spending all my mental energy trying to figure out what other people might do for me, and then being disappointed if they don’t do exactly what I was secretly hoping they would.  So by those standards, this has been a pretty darn good Valentine’s Day.

And who knows, maybe when I get home from work, Steve Rogers might be waiting on my doorstep with a dozen roses and an engagement ring.  You never know.