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My little sister, age 46, is the happiest person I know.
She may be the happiest person in the world. On Friday, I phoned home and my mum said Lucy had chosen to wear red, most notably a shirt saying “Love! Love! Love!” because of the day that it was.
When I spoke to her myself, she was all giggles and joy.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Jennie!” she exclaimed.
Lucy had no Valentine – not that I know of anyway – but she embraced the occasion with the delight that she approached every other possible glint or sliver of potential happiness, however remote, as she goes through life.
A visitor, a cappuccino, hugs, photographs, music, dancing (any excuse!), a movie, a trip to the old age home, watching telly together, a bath, stickers, glitter, a smile from a stranger, an impromptu “good morning” ditty sung to her when she wakes to face the day.
She particularly enjoys the personalised calendar I make for her each year which lists all upcoming celebrations, including the birthdays of everyone she knows, everyone she’s ever met. She adds to it every year.
In advance, she makes people a badge with their age on it; sometimes she makes them a poster. For her own birthday, she makes a crown and wears it to dinner, with “Lucy, Birthday Princess” sparkling for all the world to see.
Being cool is not in Lucy’s repertoire. Every chance of happiness, however meant, is anticipated, talked up, and then relished.
And when it doesn’t work out, it may be briefly mourned, but then it’s put away and she moves on to the next joy.
So this Valentine’s Day, the day when both lovers and cynics get excitable, perhaps Lucy’s lesson was learned by her oh-so-sophisticated sister.
Yes, I might call it “Hallmark Day” or, worse, “VD” and raise an ironic eyebrow at the matchy-matchy couples in shift dresses and chinos eating set restaurant menus and drinking cheap champagne, and scoff at the overpriced rosebuds, heart balloons and teddy bears.
Or, perhaps, I might put on my own red shirt and shoes and embrace any passing happiness while it’s there, because there’s not enough of it in the world – and yet there’s plenty of it if you look.
Which is precisely what I did.
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