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    Posted February 8, 2013 by
    cynthiafalar
    Location
    Vero Beach, Florida
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

    More from cynthiafalar

    “A True Valentine Costs Nothing”

     

    The first time I showed my prospective husband a photo of me as a teenage he winced. His initial reaction was, “I can certainly see why your dating career began late in life!” It did not help that my mother joined in with a cackling laugh.

     

     

    What can I say? Acne Statin was my best friend at 13. I would wait for the UPS delivery man each month. It was my first lesson in understanding the term” COD”– cash-on-deliver! This concept is quite a hoot when you consider how the internet has impacted our lives. I always made sure the money was near the front door when the “transformational package” was about to be delivered.

     

     

    After all Pat Boone, the famous singer, actor and writer from the 60’s and 70’s endorsed it for his four daughters. My mother needed no other “Godly Intervention” for her daughter’s skin that resembled a battle field. As good Episcopalians, also known as “Catholic-Light” members of the church, Pat Boone’s blessing was better than a consecration from the Pope!

     

    So my “faith” in handsome men began at an early age.

     

     

    I was a hopeless romantic. I believed that love could take many forms. I wanted valentines that would rock my world.

     

    The truth is that I would have to wait until I was almost 26 to truly appreciate that gifts from the heart cost nothing.

     

    Before I go further, my days of horrible skin were short lived. Not thanks to Pat Boone or Acne Statin, but because, I learned the basics of pre-teen hygiene.

     

     

    I was asked to dances, received gifts from Tiffany’s, and even had a few ill-fated proposals. So although the title of my essay may leave you to believe I was a dating zero – I was not.

     

     

    I only wish to remind readers that Valentine’s Day is not about a ten foot teddy bear or a box of $20 berries covered in chocolate, rather it is about gifts from the heart.

     

     

    My favorite gifts cost nothing and reign as the most notable in my mental scrapbook of my life:

     

    #1 Favorite:

    “I cleaned the toilet with my bare hand!”

     

    Yup! This one takes the cake! There is nothing like having your boyfriend yell out the window….”I love you so much that I cleaned the toilet with my bare hand!”

     

     

    I had just returned from a trip to Canada with a girlfriend. When I pulled into the parking lot of my new boyfriend’s apartment building I was welcomed by him trusting his naked arm into the air and proclaiming his affections. Before you laugh too hard – we have been married for almost 21 years. Some acts of bravery really say it all!

     

    #2 Favorite:

    "Show Appreciation with Little or No Investment!"

     

    Anyone who works in the retail profession will understand this one. No matter how successful you are in the industry – your life is marked by long hours and thankless grief. Despite the best intentions of employers you are always challenged with doing more, exceeding profit margins and achieving it with few resources. Your ability to inspire and lead is the only source of salvation you have as a manager/leader.

     

     

    So it was often the case that the home office wanted you, the store management team, to do something “really meaningful” without giving you any funding or resources. It’s sort of an oxymoron to say, “How do I love you without spending a dime?” I am convinced that the authors of these programs are hopelessly single or permanently divorced!

     

     

    Each month we would hold an event called, “Celebrate Success.” It was designed to thank the employees of an $11 million dollar store with, you guessed it, nothing!

     

     

    When I look back, I realize that I learned more about the sincerity of thanking others with the simple gift of words.

     

    As I stood before a morning staff of 40, with merger donuts, juice and coffee, I learned that sometimes the greatest gifts come from the heart. As their assistant store manager, I had nothing to give but myself. So in a moment of bravery, I did my best to just speak from my heart. I probably did not do justice to each person’s contribution. However, I learned a lesson that has impacted the rest of my life ever since.

     

     

    Sometimes what people want most is not a present. They could care less about a piece of jewelry or a fancy store made card. What they really want is something from your heart. I did my best that day to say something special about each of them. I felt awkward and nervous.

     

     

    Later than night when I arrived home, my husband had placed a post note on the bathroom mirror that read – “You were brave today and I love you for it.”

     

    That post-it note hung on my bathroom mirror for years. It was the best gift I as given. It cost nothing, yet, it meant the world to me. I hope you remember, as I do, that Valentines is less about spending, and more about giving from your heart.

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