In the US, this week is all about love. Seriously, you can hardly throw a snowball without hitting a discounted heart-shaped box of chocolates. Mostly, Valentine's Day is about romantic love, or at least love of family and friends. Like many people, I love my family: my husband, kids, parents, and all those other people who by blood or by grace form my inner circles of connection. On Valentine’s Day and every day, those folks are my treasured beloveds. I am truly and infinitely grateful for them.
Today, though, I was thinking of what and who else I love. I came up with a few not-so-obvious picks:
- I love people who love their work. Particularly people who are not in what you’d call prestigious jobs. Like today, I’m writing at an Atlanta Bread Company. The lovely cashier smiled warmly as she handed me my cup—all I ordered was a soft drink—and said, “Have a good day!” I’d never have noticed if she hadn’t met my eyes, if she hadn’t been pleasant. But because of her warmth, my day was instantly better, if only for a moment. Cashiers, janitors, sanitation workers, toll booth attendants, ticket takers, receptionists, and so many more could be pardoned for being grumpy at work. They are overworked and underpaid, often either inexperienced or overqualified. Despite all that, such people offer me public services that make my life easier and often more pleasant. I love that.
- I love animal lovers. Years ago, I worked with a woman who had three or four dogs—all large breeds, all well behaved. She adored them. Once she and I were outside and she had her dogs with her. A stranger walked by, scoffing as she looked over the pack. My friend said nothing to the offender but as we walked away, she said to me in a tone that indicated she felt more pity than anger: “There’s something wrong with people who don’t like dogs.” I love animal lovers.
- I love sweet ice tea. I mean, I like unsweetened ice tea with added sweetener. That’s fine. But the perfect glass of sweet ice tea is pure perfection. It’s refreshing and indulgent. I love it.
- I love volunteers: people who give their free time to make the world better in some small way. Maybe they work with kids at church, patients in hospitals or inpatient care facilities, or help with voting. I know people who make it their business to see that children have the necessary school supplies, that flower beds are weed-free, that the refrigerators of homebound folks are stocked. Isn’t that amazing? I love that.
- I love a warm sweater. You know what I mean, right? Not just a fashionable garment designed for winter wear, but the rare sweater that snuggles with you. I’ve got two—one my sister gave me in the early 90’s, and one I got for Christmas in 2014. Life is just better when I’m wearing one of those wooly cuddlers. I positively love them.
That’s just a few of my loves. How about you? What do you love?