This challenge made me realize how special my family is and how truly lucky I am to have them. And I'm thankful for having grown up in such a household that gives their all and expects nothing in return. But as a young teenager, I still didn't understand that you didn't need to receive anything in return to know you're loved.
Flashback to my freshman year of high school, Valentine's Day. I can't remember a Valentine's Day in which I didn't hand out Valentines and not get one in return. This year, I spent my time leading up to the day of love hand making little pipe-cleaner elephants holding a heart that said a cute little phrase (can't remember what) for each of my friends. I spent FOREVER making them, but they were adorable and I was super excited to see the look on my friends' faces when I gave out my Valentines. I also took the time to decorate an old coffee can to look like those cute little heart shaped candies and added glitter ALL over it to hold the Valentines I'd get in return.
Well, the day had started out great, but ended in heartache. I handed out my Valentines, smiled at the reactions, and then left empty handed. I had given out all of my elephants and didn't receive a single Valentine in return, not even from my two best friends. I was devastated. Apparently, when you reached high school, Valentines weren't cool anymore. Unless, of course, you had a boyfriend ...
After dealing with the heartbreak of not feeling loved, I had to stay late with my supposed friends during dance/flag rehearsal after school and pretend nothing was wrong. The second I got home, I broke down and cried. My mom rushed to me and gave me a giant hug while telling me it'd be okay. Being a typical teenager, I ignored her and went to my room where I eventually fell asleep.
The next morning, I awoke to a wonderful surprise sitting on my bathroom counter. A teddy bear in a Valentine gift bag, wearing a rose necklace, smiled at me. Attached to the teddy bear was a note. I can't remember word for word, but it basically said that not everyone would fully appreciate my big heart, but it didn't mean I should stop giving to those around me. (it was worded so much nicer than that) It was from my mom. She worked nights at the airport, and apparently had stopped by a store on the way home and bought me the best Valentine ever. It wasn't the teddy bear, it wasn't the necklace, it was the advice she gave me. And every time I look at my necklace I am reminded of her simple, one line sentence. Never stop giving.
Even though I meant for this post to be advice giving and inspirational, I also want to say this. You can give and give and give, but when you don't receive anything in return ... not even a thank you, it can get frustrating. So people, ensure you say your thank yous and give to others. Eventually, those who give will finally receive as well. Because if everyone gives, everyone receives.
(I'm hoping my mom can find the teddy bear that is still in my teenage room back home, also she kept an elephant from that year too. I want to share with you her words as well as the cute craft! Finger crossed)