The Valentine Lesson

Today I thought I would share a story from my childhood...
a lesson learned long ago...and one I have never forgotten.

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I grew up in a military family...my father was in the Air Force for 21 years.  
So we moved A LOT.  But I was always able to make friends and settle in. 
When I was 8, we moved to Savannah, Georgia, and lived there for 3-1/2 years.  
My elementary years were happy...class parties were always a favorite time.  

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For Valentine's Day each year, we made the traditional Valentine mail boxes using old shoe boxes, covering them with foil and decorations.  Then on Valentine's Day, we would pass out valentines (and maybe some candies) to our classmates.

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The Valentine's Day when I was 11, in the sixth grade, was a memorable one.
Valentines came in packages, but also in big punch-out albums 
with assorted cards.  I particularly loved the glittered cards. 
I would pick the best, biggest, and most glittery cards for my very best friends. 
I remember spending lots of time working on my cards 
and deciding who would get them.

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Now, my mother insisted I give a valentine to every classmate...
which at that time, wasn't required.  I was not happy about it.  
There were some kids I didn't want to give them to...especially one boy.
He was a new kid that year, from a military family, too, and never seemed to fit in.  It was the era of the Beatles, and his hair was buzzed.  
His clothes were different, and he always got in trouble.
I even remember him getting a paddling from the teacher 
for some transgression, and being made to stand in the corner.

Not everything in the good-old-days was good.

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I didn't get in much trouble.  I had to write 100 times "I will not talk in the library".  And once I had to go to the principal when I was on safety patrol duty, for running around with the belt undone...pretending I was a horse...conduct unbecoming for an officer.  AND I was a class monitor when the teacher was out of the room.
So having to give him a Valentine wasn't high on my list. But I did it.

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Not long after, my father received orders to go to Saudi Arabia for a year, and the rest of us were moving to California to be near family while he was gone.

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It was a tradition then, when one of the kids moved, 
to pass around an autograph book.  It went through the 
classroom so everyone could say goodbye and good luck.

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On my last day, I passed around my book and an autograph dog...
do you remember those?  I said goodbye to my friends, 
packed up my school stuff, and went home.

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Later, when I sat down to read the autograph book, 
there were many sweet messages and funny rhymes.  

But the only one I remember is from the boy I didn't want to give a valentine. 
He wrote " Thank you for the valentine.  Not very many people gave me one."

That simple message touched my heart. I cried and felt ashamed...and felt great compassion for him.  As an 11 year old girl, I was taught a profound lesson that day, one that changed me forever. And I was grateful for my kind mother. 

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When I started in my new school, and in the new schools in my future...I learned to seek out those who were on the outside, and make friendships. 
I sometimes think of that young boy...and pray his life turned out okay. 

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My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
                                                                    John 15:12 NIV


Until next time...wishing you love and a Happy Valentine's Day!

32 comments

  1. What a sweet story. I've been that new kid in school many times coming from a Military Family also. Good lesson and thanks for sharing it with us!

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  2. Now, I am crying. What a sweet and touching story. I tell my 16 year old each morning as she leaves for the day to find someone who needs a little extra kindness. Being kind matters.

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  3. How beautiful, Linda! I very nearly cried myself. I don't know how you remember childhood in such detail because I don't. But this was just beautiful and what a lesson!
    Brenda

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  4. I love this story so much. My heart goes out to that little boy and I hope that one day you find out how his life went. xo Perhaps you made a huge impression on him also and he wonders about you from time to time.... thank you for being so kind to him.

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  5. Oh, this one touched my heart. First of all, I went to Catholic school, and picture you paint is a striking resemblance of my memories. It was a small school, so the "newbies" stood out. I did my best to reach out and make them feel welcome. I actually teared up reading your post. So sweet. And I sure do remember those decorated shoe boxes and autograph albums, very fondly so.

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    1. Thank you, Linda! Sounds like we have had very similar experiences!

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  6. Linda, Thank you for this story...it touched my heart. We never know when someone needs a kindness, do we. You have a kind heart and that matters in life. I hope he always remembered. Blessings to you, xoxo, Susie
    p.s. in those good old days...we behaved ourselves for fear of getting in trouble with our parents.

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  7. Loved this memory Linda. You never know how you might impact someone just by simply being kind. Ann

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  8. So much more love is needed in the world. Not so much hate. I grew up in your era and the Valentine's were very similar.

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  9. This is such a wonderful story about love. I taught elementary school for 14 years and I always told my students to include everyone. Of course, I didn't have any way of knowing if they did. We never know how something as small as your Valentine to that boy can mean so much.

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  10. Such a wonderful and touching story Linda! We never really know what impact our small acts of kindness have on another person. It’s wonderful that you each received something from that wonderful gesture and maybe your Valentine made him kind to someone else or even himself in the long run! You’re such a kind and compassionate person, I am so glad we’re friends!

    Xoxo Kat

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  11. Touching story with a great message. I know how it feels to be on the outside. My heart goes out to him and all the kids like him. Kindness goes a long way.

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  12. Well, this is a wonderful story of course. Written down, the message would have been especially profound. What a lovely life lesson from your mother! Happy Valentines Day!

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  13. What a beautiful touching story...It meant so much to him that you gave him a Valentine card because so many didn't. Children can be so unintentionally not verry kind. I would have cried too reading it and also relatiing to it..I have often times felt on the outside.

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  14. Wow that was a great story and memory yo shared and it is amazing the advice our parents gave us really turned out to be pretty good after all ... Happy Valentines Friend~

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  15. My heart just jumped when I read this- and tears filled my eyes. Your mom was a wise woman and made you a better person because of her wisdom. God bless you-xo Diana

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  16. You know that's a good story when you remember so many years later- and I bet that little boy still remembers it too. Being kind is always a good choice.

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    1. Thank you! I love your last statement, Beth...I need that on a sign somewhere as a daily reminder!

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  17. I remember the autograph dogs, and I remember a story similar to yours. It just takes a little kindness to change someones life.

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  18. Linda, what an amazingly sweet story - it made me tear up!!! I remember those shoebox mailboxes, and the sweet Valentines cards we would pass out. It seems a million years ago and yet yesterday all at the same time - how can that be?

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  19. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing this with us. Your photos are amazing, too. Happy Valentine's Day, Linda.

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  20. Oh Linda such a heart felt story. What a great lesson in life to learn and then carry on into your adult life. Very sweet. Have a wonderful Valentine's Day. I remember getting the punch out valentine's too and wanting to have the special glitter ones for my bff's. Oh fun times and great memories.
    xoxo
    Kris

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  21. Loved your story, brought back memories.

    Much love,

    Debby
    Debbygoesshabby.blogspot.com

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  22. oh that made my Valentine Day, Linda. thanks so much for sharing it with us, it's the true meaning of Valentine.

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  23. Such a sweet, sweet story, Linda! Your Mother was such a kind soul and I'm so glad that you took her advice. I'm sure your special Valentine was a treasured memory for that poor little boy. We can all learn from this little story of kindness. Hugs xo Karen

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  24. Love your story and reminder to be kind to others even as adults - you never know who needs a special touch!

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  25. As an old military brat, I thank you for being nice to him and telling this story. It isn't easy moving around all the time, my son complained about it once. I hated changing schools in the middle of the year, especially because you lost a month or so of school and had to catch up in the blink of an eye. Good thing I am a genius!! And then there were the people who viewed you as an intruder on their schools. I was even accused once of moving to a place in order to "change their way of life"! What nonsense.

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    1. I so understand! I was in 4 different elementary schools, and three junior highs. Luckily I had just one high school!

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  26. What a lovely story..... I hope he had a happy life.

    Karenx

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  27. Such a sweet story Linda and what a valuable lesson!

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