I went on a first date once on Valentine’s Day. Yes, that actually happens. It was in college and the guy had no clue that this particular Tuesday night was in fact Valentine’s Day. Every woman knows when Valentine’s Day is, so you can see why there may have been some curious excitement when he asked me to go out on that particular evening.
He didn’t make reservations anywhere, not thinking that it would be the busiest night out of the year for couples in restaurants. We waited for two and a half hours for a table. It was our first and last date for many reasons.
Sixth grade was the last year we did the shoeboxes on the desks for Valentine’s Day. I distinctly remember this fact because that was the year my mom told me that I didn’t have to give one to every single person in my homeroom or class. I also remember it because this was the year that they made the little attached boxes to the Valentine’s cards if you bought LifeSavers. That year, they had gummy LifeSavers available and I was overjoyed to share those with my friends and classmates. (I still have an affinity for gummy LifeSavers)
The reason I recall all of this is because even though my mom gave me the “everyone doesn’t have to get one” speech, which I appreciate in my childhood development now, I still felt I needed to give everyone some love that year. Everyone should know they matter and are appreciated, even the guy in homeroom who did nothing but aggravate me daily with his snarky comments on me reading books.
When I was in grad school I was seeing a guy for quite a while when Valentine’s Day rolled around. He thought dinner in and a movie was the ticket after a very long week of work and grad school. (We were both working full-time and in grad school, his was electrical engineering so he won on the harder courses) He made an amazing dinner complete with Cheddar Bay Biscuits (yes the Red Lobster recipe) which was a big deal because he was allergic to cheese, sad right? I made a chocolate cake that looked like a flower (#wifematerial even then). We settled in after dinner to watch a movie he rented. He kept going on about how it was a romantic one and thought it’d be perfect since we’d not seen it. It ended up being The Notebook.
Don’t get me wrong ladies, I do enjoy the movie however my grandmother had just been diagnosed with dementia so that whole story line was a bit too raw for me. I ended up sobbing for half of the movie.
My dad has the trifecta in February. With three women in his life, my momma, myself and my sister, he was our Valentine for the better part of my life. (Still kinda is because I’m a daddy’s girl) Not only that but my lovely mom was born within a week of Hearts Day and their anniversary falls not far behind it. So he had the arduous task of going big each February. (Or one and done, as some would say)
But in the mix, he never forgot about my sister or me. If mom got a piece of jewelry, my sister and I got a little smaller piece that looked like it. If mom got the big honkin’ box of chocolates, we got the smaller version. Mom gets a big vase of roses? We got a flower each. My dad was pretty spot on, and still is, on modeling that bit of thoughtfulness in life for me and my sister. To know that men are capable, regardless of other problems or issues, of being thoughtful in ways we don’t give them credit for.
I share all these stories with you today because I have a bit of nostalgia when Valentine’s Day rolls around. I think back on the ways in which I have been shown love, kindness and appreciation. I also like to give it out. I know it shouldn’t take a specific date on the calendar to show it, but it does for us. While I attempt to show throughout the year how much I love and appreciate those around me, it’s always nice to see the world breathe love out at least on one day a year.
It reminds me that love surrounds us, encompasses us and we don’t much appreciate that in the every day. We take it for granted, we distort it, we manipulate it and we often abuse it. But today we can pause and live in it. It’s cheesiness, it’s ridiculousness, it’s amazingness, and it’s awe and wonder.
In the middle of dark times, when ugliness and evil abound we can pause and be reminded by red hearts, chocolates, flowers in bloom that love matters. Love is real. Love is present. Love is giving. Most of all, that we carry the capacity to love, to give it out and to receive it. I believe we should carry February 14 in us every day of the year, much like December 25.
But what do I know? I am filled with hope at the joy of love. I see it’s impact when we give it out and fully live into it.