At work the other day, I heard a small voice and little coughs on the other side of my cubicle. Soon to follow was the sound of a six-year old girl tiptoeing down to my boss’s office with a piece of paper in hand. This took me back to the hours I’d spent drawing pictures in my dad’s office and I asked if she would color me one. I was quickly greeted by a quiet whisper as a paper was placed on my desk. It was covered in swirls and lines- but what struck me most was the bottom, where she had written “Love” and signed her name. I smiled at her and thanked her for the artwork and tacked the picture on my wall.
When I was in elementary school, my mom would buy Christmas presents for all of my teachers. Until I was old enough to wrap them myself, she’d let me choose which bag and which item each teacher would get. This really excited me and I would take my time deciding who would like what best: Should Mrs. Arnold get the snowman candle? Maybe Mrs. McNally should have the red one that smells like cinnamon because it would be nice in the art room. Mrs. Eubanks should definitely have the bag that has the manger scene on it because she teaches religion class.
With all the gifts wrapped, it came time to address the tags. With my best penmanship, I would write “To: Mr. Cox” (or whoever) and then sign my name. Mom would watch over me, making sure I put “Love, Colleen” on ever sticker or tag. And when I was really little, I knew no different. This was how we signed our names when we gave gifts in the Hathaway home. Whether it was a graduation present to a family member or a birthday present to a classmate- I was always expected to write “Love, Colleen” on the card.
As I grew older, I started taking note of this and questioned why I had to do it. The majority of my peers (especially the boys) would write “From” on gifts and cards they gave. But my parents were persistent with this and made me cross out ever single “From” on my valentines and write in the word “Love.” And they did the same with every Christmas or birthday present they ever gave me. I guess I eventually stopped questioning it. It was just understood. So why was it such a shock to see it reciprocated by a young girl I’d never met before?
Such a large statement in a small form.