A Valentine's Day Angel

Though this earth angel was only five, she taught him the meaning of love.

By Ken Rokusek, Kenosha, Wisconsin

As appeared in

Valentine’s Day was around the corner.

For my daughter, Becky Hallstrom, that meant a party for the kindergarten class she taught.

“They’re really looking forward to it,” she told me over the phone one evening. “Especially the valentines exchange. The kids are filling their cards out all by themselves.”

“That’s a lot of writing,” I said.

“Yep. One card for every student in the class. Guaranteed.”

Becky’s words might have sounded casual, but she knew they were important for me to hear. She knew the story all too well. The story of another Valentine exchange long ago.

My mind drifted back. I was a student not much older than Becky’s kindergarteners. In the 1940s at a public school in Chicago, Illinois, my teacher announced a party.

“On Valentine’s Day we give cards to those we care about.” She placed a big wooden box on the corner of her desk.

My friends and I sat up in our chairs for a better look. The box was decorated with paper hearts and lace, and there was a narrow slit in the top, kind of like a mailbox.

“You can put valentines for your friends in the box,” the teacher said. “As many as you want. I knew we’d have lots so I got a big box to hold them. At the party we’ll open up the box and deliver the cards. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

We all nodded. Some of the girls giggled and whispered to each other. I was more interested in the party. Cookies! I didn’t see how a valentines box could beat that.

All week the box took up space on the teacher’s desk, a reminder of its importance. Students dropped envelopes inside here and there. The girls liked to make a big deal of it when they dropped in a fat pile, one card at a time to make sure the event was noticed by the whole class. I dropped a couple in for my friends. Why not? It was Valentine’s Day.

The party, when the day finally arrived, did not disappoint. There was punch and heart-shaped cookies. I was feeling pretty good about this Valentine’s Day stuff as I sat at my desk and enjoyed the snacks.

At her desk, our teacher opened the box and started passing out the little envelopes inside. I waited at my desk, wondering who had sent one to me.

The girls oohed and aahed as they received theirs. The boys mostly played it cool, with a friendly elbow jab of thanks. I played it cool too, waiting at my desk. Maybe mine are at the bottom, I thought as the girl across the aisle from me added yet another card to her pile.

The teacher moved toward me, her hands full of envelopes. I sat up straight, ready to accept her delivery, but she handed a card to the boy behind me. I took a gulp of my punch, hoping no one had noticed.

As I chatted with friends, I kept one eye on the teacher, checking on her progress. The box was now empty, and there were only a couple of cards left in her hand. Just let me get at least one, I thought.

The teacher went back to her desk. She put the box away for next year.

I hadn’t gotten a single valentine. Nobody wanted to give me a card? I thought. Not one person?

“Hey, Ken didn’t get any!” one of my friends called out.

I waved him away. “A good thing too. Nobody better be giving me some lacy heart card! Valentines are strictly for girls.”

My friends laughed as I crunched into my cookie. What did I need with a card, after all? I had friends. I didn’t need a valentine to tell me so. It didn’t matter. I just put on my tough face and wore it the rest of the day. What else could I do? I wasn’t about to cry at school. But years later memories of that party did bring tears to my eyes.

“You know, Becky,” I said. “I’ve had over sixty Valentine’s Days since then, and that’s still probably the one I remember most.”

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Your Comments (13)

This story brought tears to me eyes. May God bless Olivia and all His angels on Earth. I think it's great Ken that you can see a positive in the experience of how your daughter uses it to teach kindness.

I called my granddaughters as I was going to read them the story that I really enjoyed and thought it might be good for them to hear it and to see how other people feel when they are left out. They didn't answer the phone but I am keeping the story and reading it to them the next time I talk with them. Thanks for the story it was great and may God bless you and your dad.

I feel it is important to let people know that everyone is a special person. A smile, a thank you,a wave or a nod, even when you don't know them. Hearts beat in us all, and everyone needs love. It is cost free, but, a gift truely worth giving, not just on Valentines Day, but every day. That is the reason God made hearts. You may not see the results, that really does not matter. What matters is, you did it, any everyone, including you reap the benifits. So sprend a little love in your smile or anyway possible. Happy Valentines Day. Much Love,God's richest Blessings. Margaret

I had a Valentine's Day exactly like that when I waa in grade school. I had a valentine for every kid in class, but my little box was completely empty. It has stuck with me all these years. Thanks for sharing.

I will share this story with my 7th & 8th grade boys at our Christian Military Boarding School and hope for love to soar.

Little Olivia deserves all the love from God, for being so thoughtful and sensitive. May god bless her and be with her when she needs him in her life!

What a coincidence that I should be reading this article today. Just the other day when dropping off my 10 year old son to school, I was talking to him about the Good Deed Chain and the Bad Deed Chain. I told him how one simple act of kindness can change a persons day and before you know it that person is being kind to another who passess it to another and so forth. Similarly, with a mean act and how it spreads unhappiness around. The drive to my son's school is rather short and so I had to wrap up my sharing. Before reaching school he said to me, " Mummy, if I do a good deed today, will I get big money in Jesus money"? I said to him, "I don't know about Jesus money, but you'll score big points in Jesus' book of good deeds".

I loved this beautiful story.....I was teary-eyed and it certainly brought me to a halt to smell the "roses". Thank you.

We never know what a simple act of kindness or even a simple courtesy can mean to people. A Lutheran seminarian once said that a man who worked at lumber mill for over 40 years was moved to tears when he the seminarian thanked him for a job well done and was told by that man that in those 40 years no one had bothered to acknowledge him.
I have a tip to pass on. Whenever I am in a grocery store, or a fast food establishment, or a cafeteria serving line if the people working have name tags I make a point to call them by their name becuase I too have done that work and it is a thankless and low paying labor intensive kind of work. At least these people should know that they are appreciated by those whom they serve! I don't do this to act like a politician, God forbid that, nor to act like "the preacher" God forbid that too, nor to be a condescending prat, God truly forbid that, but too say thank you.

Put a little love in your heart - and someone elses... there is NEVER a time when loving remembrance is not needed, welcomed, yearned for, hoped for, blessed to receive.

Happy Valentine's Day -
May His love - lead you in your own loving,

That was the sweetest story I have ever read. It brought tears to my eyes. It is very important to alway be mindful...or at least try to be of others.

God Bless

Happy Valentine's Day Robin!

With peace,

<3 L <3 O <3 V <3 E <3
Luke 10:42
42 ... [a] Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.”