I've heard it my whole life; actions speak louder than words. The familiarity of the saying does not diminish its truth. Actions back up words. Doing trumps saying. Saying, "I love you" yet never acting on those words will never convey true love. Speaking words is easy, but backing up words with how you live, is where the rubber meets the road and truth is communicated.
In the spirit of Valentine's Day, the day to express love, allow me to suggest a few deeds that speak love. Perhaps past traditions are sufficient to celebrate your love. But maybe those traditions could use a little shaking up. Get your whole family involved and teach your children how to put actions behind words.
Make Valentine's Day a love feast for the family. Instead of a private celebration, make it a family affair. Celebrate at home cooking together. Pick a simple recipe and wait till everyone is home to begin. Gather in the kitchen and give each something to do. Play fun music and teach that "we are cooking for each other because we love and care for one another." Feeding one another provides the most basic of needs. Thank each for their contribution while pointing out that their hands and actions were showing love. Providing a loving act for children to perform teaches and shows how to live out and express love.
A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. - Saint Basil
Spend the evening expressing Valentine's love and care to strangers with free deeds. Start at Free Rice (www.freerice.com). At this site questions are answered and, for every correct answer, ten grains of rice are donated to world hunger. For every 100 grains of rice, you fill a bowl. You can play as long as you like, doing something to help world hunger. On screen, there is a visible filling of a bowl.
Another quick way to teach children to express their love is through random acts of kindness. On Valentine's morning, post some notes for each of your loved ones to see upon rising; on bathroom mirror, closet door, and so on. Express a sentiment specific to your love for them. In the evening, share the website, Operation Beautiful (www.operationbeautiful.com). "The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other people to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL." Suggest everyone make a note for an anonymous person, and then take a drive to a public place and everyone deposits their note. Explain the feelings they felt, reading the expressions left for them that morning; some people are longing to feel. Knowing someone cared enough to leave a note will brighten their day or lift their spirits; tangible expressions of caring.
There are a million great ways to express love through actions, but teaching children to properly communicate their love will last a lifetime. Every relationship will benefit from their learning that love is an action word not simply a spoken sentiment.
Elaine Stone, mother of three, lives in Spotsylvania.