On Saturday we invited friends over to make cards with us, and it was very sweet. Ever practical, I tried to encourage my kids to work on Valentines for their classmates, but they - like everyone else - much preferred to make cards for the friends sitting right next to them. Almost five-year-old Darby helped me make a card for Mike (lots of glitter), Charlotte got down to making sweet Valentine books from paper grocery bags, and Mackenzie was an absolute wizard with the heart-shaped doilies. But my favorite moment by far was when Ava quietly walked around the table to give a valentine I'd been admiring to me, just at the moment that I finished a valentine I'd been quietly making for her. We just grinned at each other as we ceremoniously exchanged them. Kismet.
I have been fretting lately about finances. In all the world, is there anything more tedious and oppressive than money worry? I think not. You're not really supposed to talk about it, but I do. Someday I'll work a lot more, but social work (and writing, and yoga, and advocating for poor people, and mothering, and seemingly all my talents and education and experience) points to a lifetime of tight budgets for this family. It can be discouraging.
This weekend we spent more time together as a family than we have in such a long time. Mike usually works all day Saturday while I run errands and cart the kids to stuff, but our rhythm was different: we had a blast Saturday making and giving and receiving with good friends, and that evening Mike and I went out on a real date (so so nice). Then Sunday we went to church, and to a rousing folk concert featuring musically-gifted friends and tutors called Be Gone Dull Care at St. John's, and to Taco Sunday after that.
Against a backdrop of worry about tight budgets, all that together time presented me with moments of blessed clarity about what matters. The sermon at church, about healing and being healed in community, helped too. It's true that what I do won't ever make us rich, but right now, that's okay. It feels so good to share myself, to open the doors of our home and my heart and welcome all kinds of people in. It is truly healing to live as a family in community. I think of that spontaneous exchange with Ava: it offered the joys giving and receiving all rolled into one.
I do believe our family needs time more than money. And yes, money sometimes buys you time, but more often than that it steals it away. Oh, it is good to sit back and recognize the treasure you do have! There will always be bills to pay and hard budgetary choices to make, but as for that dark, heavy cloud that hangs low and whispers lies, insisting that it isn't enough, I say be gone, dull care. Yes it is.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.