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WILL YOU BE MY VALENTINE? John and I started dating in early February 1986, so the first card I ever gave him was for Valentine’s Day. Because our relationship was new, and because I was too “cool” to be sappy, of course the card featured Lucy from Peanuts saying something sarcastic and conceited to Charlie Brown. To be sure, Valentine’s Day is a holiday mostly for young love. After 30 years, we don’t really acknowledge it anymore. I mean, of course we’re each other’s valentines, right?
Every year, I looked forward to decorating my shoebox. With my mom’s help, I would cut a mail slot in the top of the box and wrap it in red foil or paper, then decorate the outside with a collage. We would cut out pictures of doves, angels, and hearts from magazines. There were always heart-shaped lace doilies, too. My mom would let me cut scraps of vintage ribbon and lace from a box she kept in her bedroom. I also loved picking out the Valentine’s cards at the store. Peanuts was my go-to from the beginning. I would address a card to each kid in the class and tape a piece of gum or candy to the outside, labeling my favorite cards for my closest friends. At the class party, I would proudly set up my mailbox to receive cards. I was impressed if someone came up with a new creative way to decorate, like adding a flag to the side of the box that moved up and down. At the end of the day, I would open all of the cards I received, showing my mom the best ones. Naturally, when the kids were little, I wanted to carry on the tradition, and so I volunteered at school for the Valentine’s Day party. As with the Halloween parties, I planned games and made special treats like cutout conversation heart cookies. My mom, “Grammy,” would come down from Cleveland the weekend before to help the kids make their mailboxes. Rachel especially shared my love for Valentine’s Day. One year, she took things to a whole new level and decided to make homemade cards for each kid in class. There is something special about giving and receiving cards, sometimes even more so than receiving a gift. I haven’t been in a classroom since the kids were little, but I sure hope the tradition of the homemade mailbox and Valentine’s Day cards hasn’t been replaced by text messages, GIFs, and memes. I think this year I will renew the ritual and make a homemade card for John: Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m forever your Valentine; won’t you be mine, too?
My fondest memories of Valentine’s Day go back to the days before I was old enough to have a significant other to celebrate with. Before roses, chocolate, and romantic dinners, there was the tradition of the homemade mailbox.
John and Hillary, Feb. 6, 1987
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RENAISSANCE MAN BILL SWIFT INSPIRATION CORNER Bill Swift was John’s brother-in-law — his sister Jane’s husband and soulmate. Over the years, Bill was a constant source of inspiration for us. He was a true modern-day Renaissance man who lived and enjoyed every day to the fullest. Bill was a master carpenter and craftsman. There was nothing he couldn’t fix or improve. He was also curious and introspective. He loved to travel, read, and learn new things. He took great care of his physical body and was ever conscious of his diet and fitness. Bill had a thirst for knowledge and new experiences and lived life with an open mind and an open heart. Bill found out in early March that he had aggressive melanoma cancer. Bill faced death with the same courage, perseverance, and self-discipline as he did everything in life. One of our favorite Bill Swift quotes is: “Learn from the past, plan for the future, but don’t dwell too long in either place.”
SHARE THE LOVE THIS MONTH 4 Ways to Support Your Loved Ones This Valentine’s Day Every Valentine’s Day, people want to find the best ways to show their partner or even a close friend how much they care. It is easy to get sucked into thinking you have to give them the most expensive or elaborate present you can find, but sometimes, the most meaningful gifts are the simplest. Here are four easy ways to show your loved ones how much you care this February. A Text a Day Knowing someone has your back throughout the year, no matter how difficult things can get, is a great source of support and love. In addition to the usual communication you share with your loved one, add in a supportive text each day, whether it’s simply letting them know you’re thinking of them or wishing them luck on a presentation or interview. The best part about these texts is that they can be sent year-round. A Morning Message Board Whiteboards are fun to draw on and make great calendars, but they can also be used to share heartfelt messages with your roommates or spouse. Writing positive messages like, “I hope you have a wonderful day!” or “You matter!” can make all the difference. Waking up to a loving note from someone they care about could mean the world to them and shift their entire mood for the day. A Daily Journal Entry February and March are usually when New Year’s resolutions begin to falter. To encourage yourself and your loved one, consider starting a daily journal. Leave a journal where you both have access to it and write positive messages inside for the other person. This acknowledgment of hard work is exactly what you both need to continue pursuing your goals this year. Random Gifts You don’t have to wait for a birthday, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day to give your loved one a gift. Buying small gifts lets your friend or spouse know you’ve been thinking about them. Whether it’s a treat they enjoy, a book, or even a small gift card, these thoughtful gestures are sure to make them smile.
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Rinehardt Family Favorite Pancake Recipe
This recipe is easy to make any day. When the kids were little, Hillary made heart-shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day. Just spoon the batter into a pastry bag or gallon bag and cut the corner. When the skillet is hot, pipe heart shapes and fill them in with a V-shape of batter. Add mini chocolate chips and serve with raspberries and strawberries.
FRONTLINE FRIDAYS Serving Those Who Serve Us
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted • Vegetable oil or butter for griddle
• 1/4 cup sugar
Even though it’s a new year, the pandemic continues to have an overwhelming impact on our community. We wanted to show our thanks to the community’s frontline workers by sending a pizza lunch to a team of them every Friday through February. These people have continued to answer the call for our community and are heroes who deserve our attention and assistance during these trying times. We posted the campaign on Facebook and started taking nominations — the response has been overwhelming. The first week, we served the folks at the Walk-in Urgent Care on Trimble Road, who were nominated by one of our own team members. Despite being overwhelmed with the influx of people needing tests, the staff remains friendly, professional, and upbeat! The second week, we brought lunch to Third Street Family Health Services. Third Street was nominated by Marie Doan, a community health worker. Marie helps people in the community who are struggling to get back on their feet by assisting them in their search for housing, jobs, and services. She had a client with an empty apartment. She sent out an email to the folks at Third Street, and the household items and furniture started pouring in. Third Street provides accessible, affordable, and comprehensive health care to all, including services in obstetrics, pediatric care, vision, behavioral health, and much more. With multiple locations all around the area, Third Street delivers these vital services to the community, and we think they are extraordinary! If you or a loved one has had an experience with a frontline worker (hospital employee, EMT, nursing home employee, police officer, firefighter, etc.), send us a message on Facebook or through the contact page on our website. Every Friday through the end of February, we will continue to choose a nominee and deliver pizza to that frontline worker’s team!
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 2 cups milk of choice (we use almond milk)
• Optional: blueberries,
bananas, chocolate chips, raspberries, strawberries
1. Preheat oven to 200 F and have a baking sheet or heatproof platter ready to keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven. 2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and egg. Whisk until just moistened. Mix in butter. 3. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add a little butter or oil and spread evenly around. 4. For each pancake, spoon about a quarter cup of batter onto skillet, using the back of the spoon to spread batter into a round (you should be able to fit 2–3 in a large skillet). Sprinkle optional berries or chips on top of pancakes and add a little more batter on top so that when you flip them, the berries/ chips won’t burn. 5. Cook until surface of pancakes have some bubbles and a few have burst, 1–2 minutes. Flip carefully with a thin spatula and cook until browned on the underside, 1–2 minutes more. Transfer to a baking sheet or platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in the oven. Continue with more oil and remaining batter. Serve warm with butter, maple syrup, and extra berries.
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INSIDE THIS EDITION
Will You Be My Valentine?
A Month of Love and Support Inspiration Corner
Frontline Fridays — Serving Those who Serve Us Rinehardt Family Favorite Pancake Recipe
What’s the Deal With Valentine’s Day Cards?
IT’S IN THE CARDS
Why Valentine’s Day Is the Ultimate Card Holiday
This may be the first year in a long time that kids don’t pass out Valentine’s Day cards at school. Going in to the new year, the seasonal section of most stores is lined with cards featuring fun characters from superheroes to unicorns. Handing out cards is now a well-loved tradition, but have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day became one of the biggest card-giving holidays of the year? Like many holiday traditions, the convention of handing out Valentine’s Day cards goes back centuries. During the 1700s, it became fashionable to trade Valentine’s Day cards with a short poem or verse.
The popularity of swapping cards only increased throughout the 1800s. Sometimes, people would go as far as to paint or draw spring-like images on the cards. They were much more elaborate than what we typically see today, though they were still usually very small. But where did those folks get the idea? People of that era were likely inspired by stories that go back even further. There are legends that the originator of this holiday tradition was Saint Valentine himself. One story says that on the night before he was set to be executed, Valentine wrote a small letter to a jailer’s daughter. He ended the note with “Your Valentine.” It’s unknown whether that story is true, but to 18th century Europeans and Americans, it was inspiring! So inspiring, in fact, that the entire Valentine’s Day industry began to gain traction. A guidebook called “The Young Man’s Valentine” was published in 1797 to help suitors garner the attention of their love interests through the written word. Eventually, books aimed at women were also published, including “The Lady’s Own Valentine Writer,” which served much the same goal. These publications, along with young people writing notes to one another every February, have made Valentine’s Day cards an ingrained tradition, and now people can’t get enough of them!
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