What Is Special About You?

Pieces of colorful paper passed from hand to hand, waiting for another sentence about what was special or unique or good about the person whose name was emblazoned in black marker in the middle of the page. The papers circulated the room, stopping at each hand, receiving more words of encouragement and praise.

Only after the papers were filled with writing did the brownies and pop come out. That was the focus of the Valentine’s Party in my daughter’s 5th grade class yesterday.

And the way her teacher explained it, standing before the silent classroom of rambunctious kids, was that he had read a story in Reader’s Digest many years ago about a World War II soldier who found himself separated from his platoon behind enemy lines in Germany and the paper wedged into his wallet said everything that was good about him from his high school classmates.

Those words saw him through until he escaped from Germany, the teacher said. And every year he does this friendship party on Valentine’s Day, and has the kids even fill out a paper for him. He told his students that when he’s had a bad day, he pulls out the papers, and they remind him that he’s a good teacher.

He wished all the kids that these pages would do the same for them, carry them through hard times, because everyone hits hard times at one point or another in life.

My daughter’s page said over and over again how smart she is, how nice. “I want to be fun, too,” she said.

We live in a world where we don’t praise, we just complain. We point fingers. We blame others. We play the part of the victim far better than the part of the champion.

We focus on the one moment in a day that was disappointing rathe than the many fantastic moments sprinkled throughout the hours. So to devote a Valentine’s party to telling others what is good about them, articulately, thoughtfully, full-on, well, it’s a wonderful idea.

Yesterday, my younger son wore a button-down and blazer to school for his fancy Valentine’s tea. My older son gave Valentine’s to special friends. Each of my kids focused on elevating the day by going out of their way to say and do nice things. I’m proud of that.

Oprah Winfrey said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

The day is dawning in beauty. Go make it a great one. It’s entirely up to you.

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