Distilling love

As I was writing the simple guide to festival planning, I thought ahead to Valentine’s Day and what I wanted to get out of it. Most years I think of Valentine’s Day as being inconsequential or forgettable. The commercialism surrounding the day doesn’t interest me, and the history behind St. Valentine and his annual commemoration is a bit too heavy for our young family.

Creating and working with my hands is like a deep drink of water for my soul, and although it will be fun to delve into tissue paper stained glass hearts, love notes, chocolates and flowers, I also realize they are just things. In Roald Dahl’s book, The Big Friendly Giant, Sophie discovers the BFG’s collection of dreams: rows and rows of jars, each jar holding a swirl of smoky colors, a single dream. I think each special day has it’s own essence, a core energy that tumbles throughout the household. These beautiful, ephemeral feelings we can’t capture and store in a jar, but we can conjure it through head, hands and heart. For Valentine’s Day and this week, it seems natural to meditate on the energy of love and warmth.

I spent some time thinking about what love means to each person in my family. For V, it means:

  • Lots of hugs, and time in our arms and laps. Tig and I joke that her middle name is Bao Bao which means “to hold” in Mandarin (not to be confused with baobab’s in The Little Prince). She live and thrives on physical affection.
  • Reading book after book with her
  • Being a patient and engaged meal companion even after hours of leisurely lunches and snacks.
  • Putting extra kisses in her hands whenever we go our separate ways
  • Singing songs to her
  • Telling her stories about when she was a baby
  • Taking baths together and letting her play until her hands get “prinkley”
  • The words, “I love you” don’t mean as much, but I say it anyways.

And what about O? It’s still early. I’m watching, observing, taking notes. For now, I believe what makes him feel loved is:

  • Warm milk from mama
  • My arms
  • Lots of rocking
  • Singing Bella Bella Bambina
  • Talking to him and making him laugh
  • Massages

And we could go on doing this for our spouses and each family member.

And here is my confession: I don’t do enough of the above. Some days I come home late, sneak glances at my blackberry during meals and weekends, work on my laptop, clean the house when my daughter wants me to read a book, and eye the clock as bedtime approaches. Not all the time, just enough to make my heart sink when I reflect on a busy day.

This week, I’m on a mission to distill my love for my family, and to savor. every. drop. I know what I need to do [slowly closing my laptop].

P.S. I still want to make those stained glass hearts.