In this time of a seemingly endless pandemic, Valentine’s Day is sure to be different for many of us. Those who are couples may miss out on traditional dinners, romantic getaways, and other similar expressions of their undying affection.

But what if there was an easy and heartfelt way for all of us, singles and couples alike, to honor Valentine’s Day? A way to express love safely and without threatening COVID, not only to our beloved, but to the many other people in our world that we cherish. It is putting love into action by simply saying “Thank you.”

Take Ana Reyes, for example, who some 40 years later (!), Tracked down her first grade teacher, Ms. Harkleroad (with help from the Kentucky Department of Education), to thank Ms. Harkleroad for giving her the skills that led to Ana’s professional success as a lawyer. Ana immigrated to Kentucky from Spain and Uruguay as a child and struggled to learn the language of her new country. Realizing this, Ms. Harkleroad would come to school an hour early every day to teach Ana in English. Ana was an avid learner and a fast learner. From those early days at school, Ana earned her law degree from Harvard, as well as a master’s degree in international public policy from Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Harkleroad, now 77, was moved to tears by the thank you letter Ana read to her: true love in action.

Saying “thank you” may seem simplistic, even nonsensical. It’s just a phrase that you took off as a courtesy. But “thank you”, when you really feel and genuinely express yourself, it is much more than that. It is letting someone know that you recognize what they did for you as something significant, as a positive impact on your life, no matter how big or small. Recognizing that they somehow loved you. They respected and honored you as a valuable human being, even if it was just to pour you a latte. Saying “thank you” loves them too.

So this Valentine’s Day, let “thank you” be the way you express your love and appreciation to as many people as you can in your world. It doesn’t matter if you thank someone verbally or in a text message, email, letter, or voicemail. Whether it’s just two words or a passionate multi-page outpouring of gratitude, “thank you” is always valuable. Perhaps even more so in these days of pandemic, when we could all use a little more love.

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