It’s mid-February and that means one thing, Valentine’s Day.
As a child Valentine’s Day was fun. You got to design your own little heart-laden box to accept all your classmate’s Valentine’s. Then you’d get to fill in the To: and From: fields on your G.I. Joe cards (because nothing says “Be Mine” like Snake Eyes). I remember each time taking extra special care when filling out a card for the girl who I happened to like that particular year. When the day arrived and cards were exchanged I would rifle through my haul finding the one from whichever girl it was and kept it apart from the others. It was special even though I’m sure she’d written the exact same thing on mine that she’d written on everyone else’s. No matter, love was given and received. Valentine’s Day was for a young boy not yet mature enough to express his affections and for him to hold fast to even a token expression from the object those affections.
As a teenager Valentine’s Day was a stressful time. Either I didn’t have a “girlfriend” and was forced to endure a day of hearts, cards and stuffed animals parading through my loneliness or even worse I had a “girlfriend” and felt pressure to provide just the right combination of cards, candy and stuffed animals to show the appropriate level of affection. Are flowers and a card enough? Should I get her balloons? Does she like balloons? If I don’t get her candy will she think I think she’s fat? Why did I want a girlfriend again? Valentine’s Day was a report card on how you were, or were not in some sad cases, perceived as “boyfriend” material.
As a young adult I became disenchanted with Valentine’s Day. I’d tell anyone who’d listen that Valentine’s Day was for rotten lovers to make up for their shortcomings and failures throughout the rest of the year. I firmly believed if a man was doing his job and caring for his companion then Valentine’s Day was just another day.
It was easy to take such a stance because as a newly married couple we of course had it all figured out. We had plenty of time and energy to heap affection on one another everyday and had vowed never to become disconnected like those old fogies no matter what circumstances life had in store for us.
Adding to my distaste for Valentine’s Day was the fact that the same dozen roses I’d bought for her the previous week cost $20-$30 dollars more on this love sanctioned day. Over crowded restaurants offered just one or two Valentine’s meals for a king’s ransom. And last but not least cards failed to provide an adequate expression of my love for her. Valentine’s Day was a needless day for a loving couple who felt no compulsion to share their affections with the masses.
Now as a slightly less young adult Valentine’s Day is an oasis of sorts. I’ve become one of those rotten lovers who didn’t keep his promise to stay connected no matter what life through at him. Between children and work and school and church each day just fills up. At day’s end when the work is done and the kids are safely in bed it’s time to unwind, decompress or just veg out. Sure we spend that time together but I forget to make time to take her in my arms and just stare into those beautiful eyes. I don’t always take every shot I get to hold or caress her hand and tell her I’ve missed her today. I neglect to mention that when I catch a glimpse of her from across the room my heart still leaps in my chest. I don’t remind her daily that she’s the reason behind everything I do and she’s given my life meaning. I fail to tell her that I smile every time I think of her or that I’m smiling right now as I type this because I’m thinking of her. Or that she’s just as beautiful today as she was the day we got married, or how lucky I am to share a life with her. Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to break from the dizzying array of stuff that crowds our day to day and say “I Love You”.