I guess you can say I am a new mom. I had my daughter last August but have helped raise my step-daughter since she was just a few days old and that was December 2010.

I have always heard the love of a mother was a rare one and now I understand. I knew right away the moment I looked into my baby's beautiful brown eyes that I was the luckiest mom in the whole world. And because of this new found love I have a new appreciation for every day, every holiday.

When Valentine's Day comes around store aisles are decked with chocolate boxes, flowers, mushy cards that I still fall for each year and cute cuddly bears holding hearts. Valentine's Day is known for all those things being sent all over the world with the words, "I love you, Happy Valentine's Day."

But what does that day really mean? Many could argue we don't need a day - or a weekend in this case since Valentine's Day was Friday - just to remind people to say "I love you." I am blessed enough to tell the people that I love that I love them on a daily basis, since I am literally surrounded by family.

I am one of those people who turn away in tears when a commercial of an abandoned or abused dog pops up on television or when celebrities appear speaking softly about how just 50 cents a day could help malnourished children in foreign countries.

I have a dog, cat and a lizard who are all very loved and my family and I are blessed by their presence. My family may not always be eating a three-course meal, but on those days at the end of the month we have warm, satisfied bellies with a bowl of top ramen. Those of us who have jobs to get up and go to each day and families to come home to each night are truly blessed.

So on this Valentine's Day weekend I am thinking about the young boy who runs out to collect carts in our windy weather, the receptionist at the doctor's office who reminds me of my daughter's appointment, the volunteers at the local animal shelters where I have adopted my hairy kids, the people at the mail office who put all my lovely bills in my post office box that I pay when I can, my day-care provider who so lovingly accepts my child and takes care of her while I am at work.

The barista at the coffee shop who makes my delicious blended drink on the days I choose to splurge. Tina, my kind nail lady and her family, the relationship I have with my step-daughter's family and that we can exist as a happy family for her, the random people who acknowledge me or say hello in a store.

My animal's veterinarian office for all the kind reminders in the mail and the nice cards I get on each holiday from Mary, my car insurance lady. These are just a few of the things that I may take advantage of on a daily basis. So at this time I say Happy Valentine's Day to you, thank you for being you. And this chocolate is for you.

I could live without all the cuddly bears, flowers and mushy cards because every night when I go home my husband and two beautiful daughters will be there with our dog and cat and they are more cuddly than any bear and worth more than all the flowers and cards in the world.

Emily Reed is a Smith River resident and an advertising sales representative for the Triplicate.