A Valentine’s Victory

February 14, 2013

valentine-boy-colorYears ago, I listened to Dr. Dale Galloway tell this story at a conference on facilitating small groups. I have no idea what his point was at that time, but I fell in love with the story.

Since it is a Valentine’s tale, I decided to publish it here. A version of it can also be found in the original “Chicken Soup for the Soul”.

Little Chad was a shy, quiet young man. One day he came home and told his mother that he’d like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, “I wish he wouldn’t do that!” Over the months, she had watched the children when they walked home from school. It was a sight that broke her heart.

Her Chad was always behind them. The other kids laughed, hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. She tried to talk him out of going through this futile effort, but he would not change his mind.

Finally, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made 35 valentines. For each of his fellow students he made a unique card, trying to figure out how to make it so they would feel personally glad to receive it. Chad’s mother had never seen him with this kind of intensity and excitement.

Valentine’s Day dawned, and Chad was dressed and ready to go a full hour before the time he had to leave. When his mother finally gave him permission to go to school, he carefully stacked all the valentines, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door.

His mother decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them nice and warm with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed and maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn’t get many valentines – maybe none at all.

That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside, she looked out the window. Sure enough, there they came, laughing and having the best time. The kids were showing valentines to each other, waving around like trophies. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed. When the door opened she choked back the tears.

“Honey, I have some cookies and milk for you,” she said. But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face glowing, and all he could say was: “Not a one. Not a one.”

His mother’s heart sank at first, but then she noticed the huge smile on his face as he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”



  1. The story is fairly close to true. As we know when stories are told and retold they tend to change. The story above is about me in Virginia in 1977. It’s true that I forgot no one and I was happy about that but the true ending was the feeling of rejection from my classmates (I had just moved there) and political correctness was not the law of the land at that time. I came back to my box after passing all of the valentines and cautiously opened it and there was nothing. That day changed me significantly. I learned how people can be marginalized and invisible. I think that day pointed me in the direction of the helping profession. Today Little Chad is a psychotherapist in Sacramento CA and I advocate for those who are invisible in the world. Just like I was 36 years ago.

    • I am just going to assume you’re telling the truth as the Chad in the story. Saying that, I do not question that you felt marginalized after that event, even if you were elated at the time over not forgetting anyone. Thank you for being an advocate for those people now. It sounds like we’re both therapists in Sacramento. What a small world.

      • It is, in fact, a small world.

  2. A friend sent me this as I mourn the passing of Chad Thompson December 14, 2014. He was a good friend and advocate of those who did not have a voice in Sacramento. He helped my daughter, who suffered from mental illness, and others who were recipients of his many “valentines” and open, loving heart. He will be missed.

    • Thank you for letting me know Susan.

      • You are welcome, Michael.

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