Love is a many-faceted thing.
Love is when I invite my parents over for dinner and our annual Valentine's Day dance without consulting my wife, and then she agrees with a genuine smile, even though I just complicated her preparations a bit.
Love is when my older girls pitch in with decorations for the dance and my wife interrupts her food preparation to help them gather the needed supplies.
Love is when I leave my work at the door, shake off the drowsiness that settles in during the evening commute home, breathe deeply, and muster my remaining energy to greet a wonderful wife and energetic family.
Love is when my sons greet me at the door and enthusiastically remind me of my important goal (to drink a glass of water before each meal) by screaming "GOAL! GOAL! GOAL!"
Love is when my wife puts aside the feelings of tension that build up amidst the chaos that occurs as hungry children are corralled and directed to clean up before dinner, and greets me with a tender hug and a smile.
Love is when my parents arrive for a visit after a long, complicated day of being out and about while enduring the pains that come with advanced cancer and the onset of the golden years.
Love is when my toddler and my three year old, dressed as pink ballerinas, greet my parents at the door with shy smiles and tender hugs.
Love is when my parents endure being pummeled by the four older children and all they have to show and tell.
Love is the beautiful table setting my wife laid out in honor of the holiday.
Love is the delicious meal and the chickens, grain, and green beans that gave their lives for our enjoyment.
Love is the complete trust engendered by a wise and kind father, so that his son can ask him for advice about complicated decisions at work.
Love is my father talking as long as I had more to ask, and my wife waiting patiently while I sought needed help.
Love is dinner followed by a dance.
Love is the special feeling a proud father gets when he takes the hand of his daughter for a dance.
Love is seeing a brother who wasn't all that comfortable with the idea of dancing take his older sister by the hand, smile warmly, and join in.
Love is the surge of affection that I feel as my two little ballerinas turn and fall, get back up, and march around the room, cookies-with-icing-licked-off still in hand.
Love is swooping my baby up and holding her tight as we tip and spin to the music, her little eyes smiling in the lamplight.
Love is not caring that the icing left on her hands is now on my shoulder.
Love is the picture of my parents, holding tightly to each other, slowly turning, sometimes with eyes closed.
Love is the sting in my eyes as I watch them, knowing this will be the last Valentine's Day dance we'll all have together.
Love sometimes hurts.
Love is the warm, soothing feeling of holding my wife as we slow dance together--the familiar feeling of her back, the shine of her hair, the warmth of her head on my shoulder.
Love is the lingering hug I give to my parents as we say goodbye.
Love is finishing up the kitchen cleanup and starting the dishwasher while my wife puts the last load of laundry in the dryer--even though it's very late and we're both very tired.
Love is kneeling side by side at the bed, holding hands as we petition our Father in Heaven on behalf of our marriage and our family.
Love is the familiar look of tired sweetness in my wife's eyes as we say goodnight and turn out the light.