The Story of Love

February 3, 2009 by Ellen Stimson in Family, Marriage, Valentine's Day

I love Valentine’s Day. I always have. It never mattered to me whether I had a beau or not. I especially liked making valentines for all my classmates when I was in elementary school. Even though I was probably the worst crafter in our grade, (well next to Ricky Pulley and Mike Brown. I was always surprised when those tough guys showed up with their little mailboxes decorated with red and pink paper hearts just like the rest of us. I couldn’t imagine them living somewhere with a mom who would buy them doilies to decorate their boxes with. I could only ever imagine them taunting smaller boys on the playground and twitching up bigger girls skirts as they got off the bus) I loved making the little mailbox that would hold all those valentines at the party. My mother was a poor crafter too. And after my dad died she worked full time, so making the valentine box always seemed to sneak up on her, because she was frazzled during the week and since she was a lousy crafter she put it off on the weekend. Every year she would say in a really bright voice, like she has maybe had a real inspiration, “Hey honey let’s cover a shoe box with foil and you can cut out hearts and glue them on that”

I always acted Ike I too thought this was a novel and exciting approach. And sometimes, (because crummy crafter kids don’t need construction paper), when there was nothing but typing paper in the house, she would go up and get me scraps from her fabric box and I would cut hearts our of flowery red fabric or pink flannel from my Christmas nightgown. My mailbox was always a mixture of the glitz of aluminum foil and the more tender homespun from the sewing room.

I didn’t care. I couldn’t glue or cut worth a shit either and so my hearts were often shaped like eggs with tails and the glue oozed out along the sides, because I believed strongly that if a little were good then a lot would surely be better. This rule was tested year after year when my box had gloppy dried pearls of glue along side Lisa Thompson’s box, which like her ponytail was neat and perfect in every way. She had shiny white butcher paper on her box, and lovely doily hearts backed by bigger red and pink ones. Her ponytail next to my mop of wild curly hair was the perfect metaphor for all of our hands-on projects.

No matter I loved the whole shebang, gloppy dried glue and all. And when I had kids of my own we made valentines endlessly for the whole month of February. We ate heart shaped waffles and put red hots on the mashed potatoes. I spent the whole month humming the words to “that’s the story of, that’s the glory of love” My kids still know the whole thing by heart twenty odd years later. They groan when I start off, but by the finale I am proud to say they are always right there with me.

And over the years, when I bring out the birch vase and fill it with dry branches which we wrap with little pink and red felt kisses for the desk in the library and hang the felt garlands of hearts that are recycled from old sweaters, the conversations often turn to love. “What is the story of love anyway”, Hannah asked one year. Other years it was Benjamin or Eli who had questions about love, theirs or someone elses’s. And I have always had answers. The words may change from year to year, but the answer is always the same.

There is the perfect duet that happens in our kitchen when John and I hustle around to get a dinner on the table. He may be cooking the pasta while I am making the peanut sauce. He might be cutting up the chicken while I search for the garlic sauce when our hips bump and we both grin and before you know it we have plates of hot steaming Thai food on the table and someone else turns off the TV while we ask about Eli’s math test, or hear about the teacher who farted right out loud in class. When I come to bed after John and it is fifteen below outside there will be a warm heating pad on my side of the bed right where my feet go. My car is always miraculously cleaned and warmed before I have to leave for work, and John’s grandmother’s nut roll appears on every holiday morning just like when he was little, because Grandma taught me before she died, so my John will always have it on every holiday as long as I am around. When the kids came home once and found us painting the kitchen because there had been a little kitchen fire, it didn’t matter who did it or what happened. We got out the paint and the brushes, made a whole bunch of nachos and dug into the food and the job. John is the first person I call when I hear something funny and at night we always fall asleep touching. And lately when Eli got into a little spot of trouble for looking on a website for math help, which his parents thought might be cheating, his sister called with the website information and all the notes from the curriculum guide about how important it was for students to use the site for homework help. And last weekend Benjamin and John dug Hannah’s new beau’s car out of a ditch. Never mind that he is 6’7″ or that it was 7 o clock in the morning on a Saturday and everybody was half asleep,. Hannah came back in for a shovel and went back out with two men besides.

A good marriage carries love forward into the world. It expands and touches the people who come near.
And so that’s the story of…..that’s the glory of…love.


  • library lady

    I know you remember Katie, no matter how long it has been since you were in the book business. Katie’s most memorable quote has always reflected my opinion: “New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day were invented to remind old maids that they are alone.” (After she got married at age 50, she didn’t quote it again until she became a widow.)

  • katiedid

    I will be humming the song all day.
    I love the holiday too. Some years I love it better throwing back a little whiskey and other years I love it with a new dog from the Humane Society. I have one dog named Valentine, but I had to come up with new names in later Februaries. Now there are four from the years when the man and the whiskey both seemed redundant.

  • Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge

    What a beautiful story. I must admit, it made me cry a little bit. I love my marriage and I know I married the right person, but… his vision of love does not exactly match mine. We both respect each other completely. We laugh with each other, we honor each other, and he has made me grow into a person I always wanted to become. However… I do wish we had more of the type of love you describe, they type when two people are just “in sync”. We will be together forever, of that I am sure. But there are times that I wonder if marriage like yours is just the stuff of storybooks. I sometimes feel like mine is a bit of a compromise.

    Thank you for a wonderful post.

  • painted maypole

    the best kind of love story!

  • Jamie

    I think you and John have quite the relationship.

    Myself, well, I’ve never really been one for Valentine’s day. But i think maybe someday that will change. Hope so, at least.

  • Kate


  • TheCynicalOptimist

    First of all- loved your comment on my near death bird incident with Jamie.

    Second- love this blog post- it reminds me so much of elementary school. I LOVED making crafts and particularly a valentines mailbox. I was THAT girl- the one that strove to make her box just perfect. I am sure it wasn’t, but I sure tried!!! I have a bit of a complex about perfection… but that’s a discussion for another day!

  • TheCynicalOptimist

    Oh and it sounds like your marriage is just lovely. I think we will get there someday. At least I hope. We have our days like that. And I think, with a few more years practice, we’ll have even more! I mean, we’re just rookies (7 years) for goodness sakes! 🙂

  • the mother of this lot

    I am always quite tearful when I read your posts! Well, that or insanely jealous…..

  • Trannyhead

    Aww. I was always a crappy crafter … and you know, I always wanted the store-bought kind because they had candy attached. Who wants a sentiment when there’s FOOD at stake? Heh.

    As for Valentine’s Day? Well … this will mark the second in as many years that I will spend apart from my husband. Last year, he was in Iraq and this year, he’s away working while I stay with my parents so they can watch my kid I can cram for the bar exam. But to me? Love is what makes you keep waiting for your spouse who can’t be with you. It’s what makes you think he’s a hero and it’s what makes you appreciate the fact that he’s working hard so you can study and not work. It’s what makes you still long to be with him even if you can hardly remember what sleeping in the same bed with him feels like. That’s love. And yes, I still adore my husband. Always will, too.

  • Kat

    Your kids are lucky and so are you. Having a husband who warms up your car will make your daughters marry that same sort of kindly man.
    He sounds like my dad. I want one just like him

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama

    Oh, you are so right! Your love is carrying forward in them and outward as well, as your circles touch other’s circles. Like how you touch mine:)

  • laurwilk

    I enjoy this post! The love you share with your husband is the love I have seen between my parents my whole life. I only hope that their example will have a positive effect in my life and that someday, I will have that love too!

    What’s not to love about Valentine’s Day? A day to remind those you love just how much you love them. It’s a great holiday!

    My boxes were always subpar…so were my siblings’. My parents let us do most of our ‘homework’ on our own so we never had the pretty boxes made with adult helping hands. My dad probably thought he was helping us build character. Maybe he was!

  • starrlife

    You are a lucky woman.

  • Anonymous

    You make marriage sound easy and effortless. Mine had never been that. It is in many ways good and satisfying, but never easy. To what do you attribute your success?
    Do a marriage blog will you?

  • Deeanna

    I agree with C up there. Do a blog on marriage. Do people who know you and John think of you as happy as you are? Or is it more private than that? Or does your marriage look like everybody else’s?
    There is a website called Simple Marriage. But even there it doesn’t really seem simple. It seems like work.
    I am trying to decide whether or not to marry my current boyfriend of three years. I don’t know though if he is the one?
    How did you know about John?
    was your marriage always perfect? is it perfect or does it just sound like it is?

  • beesknees

    Who is better at being married you or John?

  • Anonymous

    I hate Valentine’s Day and happily married couples. It is deeply depressing watching everyone act all moony in restaurants and all the jewelry commercials.
    It is a good thing February is a short month is all I have to say

    Leave a Comment

    Your email is never shared.
    Required fields are marked *