By Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D., CHT, CT, GMS —
I came across the perfect shoebox yesterday. It was just the right size. The sides weren’t caved in from having a pair of too-big shoes crammed into its depths, and it still had a good top on it. It was the perfect box! I could wrap it with red and white crepe paper and add a pretty bow, and everyone at school, on Valentine’s Day, would know whose box it was. And they would stuff it full.
Too bad I found it now, 35 years after I left school! Ah well, that sometimes seems to be the story of my life–too late or too early or too small or too big or too something–right now, too empty.
To me, shoeboxes and Valentines are symbols of February. No one buys shoeboxes…they just grow (like hangers do) in the dark. They are usually there when you need them, bringing comfort and security and a peace of mind that we will always have enough room to store the world as long as we have shoeboxes.
Shoeboxes are also the repository of those little dark brown fluted papers — the ones that held the chocolates — that spelled “GUILTY” whenever someone found them in the kitchen garbage. So, like all clever snitchers, I stored the incriminating evidence of my midnight raids on the box of Valentine chocolates in a shoebox, well hidden in the back of the closet. Usually, I could remember to empty the box by summer, but occasionally, I would find a stash of little candy papers sometime in October or November.
Ah, I loved my shoebox. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of bringing home a box overflowing with cards, ribbons, chocolates and those little Sweetheart Message candies–the ones that said, “I LUV U,” or “SWEETIE PIE,” or “CUTIE.” I spent January anticipating Valentine’s Day and looking for just the right shoebox, picking out just the right boy.
Valentines haven’t changed much over the years. The messages are the same. Actually, shoeboxes haven’t changed that much either–and I’m kind of glad. Everything else in my world has changed since then…since the days when dreams were free and the world seemed to be just waiting for me and my shoebox. So, I’m glad Valentines and shoeboxes are still around.
I’m glad LOVE hasn’t gone out of fashion either. And I wish you Happy Hearts Day. You wouldn’t be reading this if you had not loved someone at some time. The Day and the shoebox are still yours, so fill it with memories (and a chocolate or two), but don’t stash it away this time. Celebrate the love that never goes away!
Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D., CHT, CT, GMS is a bereaved parent and child, a grief management specialist, a nationally certified thanatologist, a certified pastoral bereavement specialist, and a licensed psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. She is the author of Why Are the Casseroles Always Tuna?, Footsteps Through the Valley, Touchstones and If I Could Just See Hope. She co-authored A Place For Me: A Healing Journey for Grieving Kids, Footsteps Through Grief, The Other Side of Grief and Finding Your Way Through Grief with her daughter, Alicia Sims Franklin. She also wrote and produced the videos Handling the Holidays and What Color is Dead: Death From A Child’s View as well as authored numerous chapters in professional books and textbooks. She can be contacted at [email protected]. Visit her website at www.GriefInc.com.