Will the real meaning of Valentine's Day please stand up?

In case you live in a hole, Valentine’s Day is just a few days away. All these reminders only make me long for my teaching days. Oh how I loved when my students transformed old shoe boxes into beautiful valentine card mailboxes. Printed class lists were sent home as homework, yes homework. Each child was responsible for writing each and every classmate's name on their cards. Yes, the rule was either you gave a card to everyone or to no one. My goal was simple. Everyone would leave feeling loved, which if I’m being honest was my goal everyday!

My job as an inner-city teacher was often filled with sadness. Yet it provided me with a daily reminder that my “tough” life paled in comparison to the little children who spent their weekdays with me. At five years of age some of these children faced challenges I had never even thought of until they entered my life. Some came to school hungry, unkempt and exhausted but no matter always found it in them to love me. So I did all I could to make sure they knew I loved them right back. I kept donated clothing in my teacher closet at the ready, the school district provided breakfast and lunch, and when desperately needed I called a family friend who was a dentist. That is why at least on Valentine’s Day there would never be tears in my classroom, just a day of everyone feeling loved.

Plus I never really appreciated all the fuss and pressure this holiday created and still don’t some 20 years later. I always wondered why just one day? Why the focus on romantic love? Why not for all your friends, just like in kindergarten? And so I began my Friendship Brunch tradition. A day I invite all my friends to my home for a chance to take care of them. An opportunity to say thank you. A snippet of time carved out of our busy lives to let them know how much I appreciate their kindness and just how important they are to my daily life.

This chalkboard is signed by all the friends who attended my Friendship Brunch In Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Roll Tide Friends!

This chalkboard is signed by all the friends who attended my Friendship Brunch In Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Roll Tide Friends!

You wonder how I accomplish this monstrous task? Well first and foremost, all my friends do not live even remotely close by, so sadly most are not able to make the trip. This football life I live has given me the very best of friends, but they are scattered across the USA. So the number of attending friends is quite manageable. As such, I spoil those in attendance with food, drink and as much laughter as we can stand. I create an invitation, clean my home, create a menu, shop, cook, create, bake and voila--DONE! But don’t get all mushy on me now. After all, it’s not all sweet intentions—there is a whole vein of selfishness going on here.

See, I consider myself a collector and like all collectors we like to show off our collections. The Friendship Brunch is the perfect opportunity for me to showcase a collection I have been working on since I was 2 1/2 years old. This invaluable collection is not stamps, rocks or Beanie Babies ... it’s friends! I have found these treasures everywhere I go and I mean everywhere. And yet, sometimes treasures actually find me instead. No matter how a treasure becomes part of my collection, I am compelled to care for them, keep them safe from harm and appreciate their beauty, value and worth. Some of my treasures are relatively new acquisitions while others I have loved for almost my entire life. With each of our moves I carefully pack them up and mark the box HANDLE WITH CARE. Sadly, but realistically, some treasures do not survive the move. For whatever reason you are just not always meant to keep a particular treasure for your entire lifetime, but can only appreciate their presence for the time you are given.

So yup, I collect friends. And undoubtedly have the most amazing collection. And I don’t even need a greeting-card holiday for it.

Moral: Treasures are in the eye of the collector!

your collecting friend,

A little invitation of your own: Since my blog is an extension of me, and your comments, shares and likes make me happy then you are friends of mine too and deserve an invite. All I ask in return is that you please make certain to RSVP so I can have a bowl of soup and a scone waiting for you!