Dressed in red and pink construction paper hearts, I perched on top of the bookshelf and knew I’d never looked better. A box that once held frozen waffles stood in front of me, proud of all the stickers that she wore today. A Ritz cracker box held the place behind me. He looked fantastic; he’d been transformed with white paper doilies and purple pipe cleaners.
All of us boxes waited patiently on this happy Valentine’s Day. At the day’s end, all the children in Mrs. Bryan’s third-grade classroom would pack away their books and begin passing out their Valentine cards and candy. They would drop the goodies into us—the boxes that the children had decorated at home, brought in this morning, and set on Mrs. Bryan’s bookshelf.
Sonya had invested much time and energy into making me look just right. Even though she had been asking for a jumbo package of Crayola crayons for weeks, Sonya made do with just her box of basic colors. She drew a whole host of hearts, in different hues, and arranged them in an arcing rainbow on my front.
Then Sonya rummaged in her mother’s craft box and found a few scraps of paper. She painstakingly snipped the paper to make enough red and pink hearts to cover my sides. Then on my back, Sonya pasted a piece of paper on which she’d written “JESUS LOVES YOU.”
Stashed away in a grocery bag, I rode with Sonya to school that morning and then took my place on the shelf. Now I waited in hopeful expectancy for all the sweets and notes that would fill me to overflowing—not for me, but for Sonya.
After dressing me in my finest last night, Sonya had carefully written “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY,” along with the child’s name, on a card she had drawn for each of her classmates.
In the afternoon, Mrs. Bryan announced that the time to exchange Valentines had come. Children began to scurry around the room, stuffing cards into boxes.
Waffle Box began to fill up—she belonged to Cassie, the best-dressed little girl in the class. Then I heard Ritz Cracker Box bragging about how many candy hearts the girls had dropped into him. Ritz belonged to Dylan, a little boy who seemed to have many secret admirers among these third-grade females.
But I had only a few, and none of them were homemade. I began to pray as hard as I could that more cards for Sonya would drop into me.
Not long before school ended for the day, a little girl named Nora walked shyly up to me. Nora had been in Mrs. Bryan’s class for only a couple weeks, but Sonya had befriended her from the beginning. She and Nora now ate lunch together every day. I heard Sonya talking all about it last night when she made a special card for Nora.
“Please let her give Sonya a Valentine’s card,” I prayed.
Nora reached out her hand—I saw her leaning in toward me!—and gingerly placed a red felt heart into me. As it dropped down inside, I saw little squished cotton balls glued on the heart as eyes and nose, and one cotton ball stretched out to make a smiley face mouth.
“Thank You, Lord,” I sighed.
I was so happy that Sonya had received this Valentine from Nora. Even if she hadn’t gotten many cards from other students, I knew that this special one would mean so much to her.
When Sonya came to collect me at the end of the day, I tried my best to shake myself around so that Nora’s Valentine would be on top.
Sonya gasped with delight when she discovered the red felt heart. She smiled as she gently touched the cotton ball mouth. Sonya turned the heart over and read, “To Sonya. With love, from Nora.” I smiled to myself as I saw Sonya smiling.
I don’t think she gave much notice to the other little cards inside me that day. When we got home after school, Sonya placed me on her bookshelf, still holding all the Valentines from her classmates. Except for the heart from Nora. Sonya placed that on the shelf, too, right beside me.
Now Sonya and I could both enjoy Nora’s Valentine forever.
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