Valentine's Day and a house full of love

By JAMIE PATTERSON,

Another Valentine’s Day has passed in the Patterson home, and it reminded me of the true gifts of love we have in this life.

As part of our annual tradition, my family and I gathered around our kitchen table to get ready for the holiday. With three children, preparation of the traditional Valentine’s Day cards is a big deal. Careful consideration is given to which card goes where, what card goes to the teachers what “super mushy” cards get discarded.

Instead of going overboard with elaborate cards covered in glitter, attachable lollipops and scratch-and-sniff stickers, I kept it simple. It was just a collection of small cards held together with a heart-shaped sticker. I got our daughter Elsie a box of My Little Pony cards; our oldest son James went with the Star Wars collection; and the baby Jase was excited about his Paw Patrol set.

It wasn’t a table covered with glitter and glue. There were no ribbons or mountains of pink paper. It was just three kids, a Momma, a Daddy and simple cardboard cards. But there was a ton of laughter and love around that circle as we let each kid scribble their friends’ names, personally pick which kid got what and put that special touch on the card for their teachers.

We even stopped to share a few laughs with my favorite Jackie Gleason show, The Honeymooners, playing in the background.

Simple, but sweet.

After supper, I wasn’t feeling well. That worried me because I wanted to bake a cake for Jase’s class for their Valentine’s Day party. But I just couldn’t do it. Heading to bed, I vowed to get up early the next morning and take care of it.

I was surprised to wake the next morning with a sheet cake covered in pink icing with sprinkles. Jason stayed up late and baked the cake I intended to get to over hot coffee and the morning sun.

This is a guy with no cake baking experience, but I must admit, he did a really good job. He is a modern Renaissance Man. A few of hours earlier he was fixing a blown brake light on my car.

Jase was so proud when we handed the homemade cake over to his teacher. Armed with a backpack full of cards and a hot pink cake, he strutted into the school that morning.

It was another Valentine’s Day accomplished. Another holiday in the books. There were no frills, bells or whistles. But it was perfect.

It was a time of gathering around as a family, making memories. A simple act of doing something together was better than any elaborate gift or display of candy and hearts.

And helping each other out when needed was the best act of love and devotion possible. We worked as a team, and it resulted in a house full of smiles.

That’s a true gift of love. Taking pride in the family, laughing through it all and adding a few extra sprinkles on top.