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Max L. Stephan: Three little words brighten my days

It’s been more than a month since Valentine’s Day, but nearly every day since then, I’m reminded of the surprises that made this year’s holiday one I’ll never forget.

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up and followed my customary routine: After walking into the kitchen, methodically I opened the cabinet door, pulled out the coffee, dropped a few scoops in the filter and listened for the gurgling sound to begin. With everything in order, I opened the silverware drawer and surprise!

Tied to one of the spoons was a tiny piece of textured paper something like department-store-box cardboard; its size, maybe 1 centimeter by 5 centimeters. The paper had a metal rivet attached to protect the punch-hole at one end; and knotted through the punch-hole were a few inches of scarlet-colored ribbon. Printed on that piece of paper, in bright red letters, were the words, “I Love You.”

Feeling both surprised and lucky, with a smirk on my face I whispered, “Krista, what have you done?”

Valentine’s Day itself had me smiling all day long; that Saturday turned into something like a day of discovery. I quickly found identical ribbon-tied notes in obvious places: attached to the lamp on my desk, around the bottle of creamer in the fridge, tied to my key chain, a “bookmark” in my latest read – you get the picture.

But was that the end? Not even close! It’s been a more than a month since Valentine’s Day – and a week since St. Patrick’s Day – and I’m still finding these precious notes all over our house. Those found on Valentine’s Day were meant to be found immediately. But plenty more had been strategically placed and concealed.

Case study: I grabbed a dress shirt from the closet just a few days ago, and attached to the hanger was another “I Love You.” Clearly it had been hidden with stealth – the shirt completely covered the note so it wouldn’t be noticed until the shirt had been removed from its hanger.

On another day, with the temperature well below zero, I grabbed a pair of wool socks from my dresser and threw them on. After a minute or so of walking around, I felt something irritating me inside the sock. Pop the sock off and what do I find? You got it.

But let’s be frank: These “finds” are starting to cause quite a concern: How many more am I going to find? Attached to how many more shirts? In my tool box? On the lawn mower? Inside the grill? Let’s face it: The way this winter is going, it’s probably going to be a few more months before I even think about looking at my short-sleeved Hawaiian shirts.

But, dearest Krista, that’s all fine with me. Reminders of Valentine’s Day magically appearing in May, June, July – whenever – make this year’s gift unbeatable.

This is the way love is most appreciated. Not the showboat glitz and glamour invested by some in one designated day, with one expressive (and probably expensive) event. Though celebrating during a harmonious night out can create memories never forgotten, it’s the “big picture” that we need to embrace.

Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate the subtle reminders of love and compassion, care and support, that we need to express all year long. That sense of love – nothing big, nothing fancy – is exactly what I feel each and every time I find another tiny note composed of three simple words.