We all have them. Memories of Valentine’s Day. Whether old or young, most of us remember smiles, laughter, and love on this special day. From our squeals of excitement in elementary school when we opened our cards on party day to the incredible feeling of love we felt when we open a special Valentine’s Day card made just for us, those memories fill our heart with joy and gladness.

Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Every store is adorned with reds and pinks and enough varieties of chocolate to last for months. Girls and guys have been looking for that perfect present that says “I love you!” Will it be flowers? Or jewelry? Or maybe just a very special card?

For me, memories of Valentine’s Day started when I was a very little girl. I remember fondly my father, who was an engineer on the railroad, surprising my mother and my sister and me with boxes of fine chocolates on this special day. My mother’s box was two pounds, and my sister and I each had a one-pound box. Even if he was out of town, he would find a way to buy chocolates in St. Louis to bring home to his girls. He never, ever failed.

When he passed away, our mother continued the tradition. Now that she is gone, my sister and I still make a trip to Fannie May to buy each other a box of fine chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Some things never change.

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My husband and I have now celebrated over 40 years of Valentine’s Days together. Sometimes he buys the silly cards and sometimes he settles on a little more serious one, but the cards are always on the table and ready for me to enjoy. I can still remember the first one he had sent to me when we were both in college. Wow! Has it really been that long ago?

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money. As the old saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” Allow your kids to make valentine cards for the elderly neighbors or the lady living alone down at the end of the block. Bake a batch of chocolate cookies for the guys at the fire station with a big heart attached letting them know how much they are appreciated. Write a special letter to your spouse letting him or her know just how much you love him.

Sometimes the best gifts don’t cost any money at all, but will live in our hearts forever just the same.