VALENTINE: a sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine’s Day
As a child, I loved Valentine’s Day. A bag full of unique expressions of friendship and admiration, an excuse for sugary treats, and making adorable heart-shaped crafts instead of another social studies lesson…it was fabulous.
As I progressed through elementary school, I became aware of the romantic implications of Valentine’s Day. I remember choosing the appropriate valentine for each friend and taking special care with the wording and penmanship on the one intended for my crush. The trick was to make sure it carried meaning but could be down-played as a random selection if needed.
In junior high, the innocence of Valentine’s Day was gone. No longer were children forced to recognize every kid in the class. In junior high, if you received a valentine it was because you had attracted the attention of a member of the opposite sex. My finest colored denim, aqua-net bangs, and paisley print shirts were never enough to result in a valentine. Instead, I watched other girls parade about with their chocolates and balloons and flowers and snog their boyfriends against the lockers. Typing that, it doesn’t seem so glamorous, but at the time I felt like I was missing something essential.
In high school, my boyfriend was not prone to grand gestures and was seemingly immune to the social pressure to embrace the traditional Hallmark trappings of a single day in February. I pretended to be enlightened enough not to need roses to be sure of his affection but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed that I finally had the missing ingredient for Valentine’s Day – a boyfriend! – but still wouldn’t be one of the girls trying to balance chocolates and flowers and balloons on top of my school books while snogging against the lockers.
I remember proclaiming with absolute certainty to my mother that I was going to marry the first guy who brought me flowers for no reason. To which, my mother wisely replied that I should probably raise my standards.
In college, I met a boy who brought flowers for no reason. My mom was right. That isn’t a compelling enough reason to marry.
Following college, I had a boyfriend who did it up in style. There were no lockers to snog against, but I was essentially one of those girls I’d always envied on Valentine’s Day. Flowers. Chocolate. Jewelry. Evening gowns. Fancy hair. It was fun. Forced. But fun.
It turns out that after years of faking it, I really was enlightened enough not to need all the traditional Hallmark trappings as proof of love. In fact, I was back to being the girl who valued flowers for no reason above impossible to get restaurant reservations and overpriced fondue.
Then came Husband.
He brings me flowers for no reason but also makes sure my vase is full on Valentine’s Day. He makes me feel loved and cherished all year but makes a special point of expressing himself on February 14th. We have had our share of traditional Valentine’s Days (like the one he proposed or the one we made Son) but there was also the Valentine’s Day he left me alone to watch a chick-flick while he took the kids to the library.
This year, we’re shipping our kids off for a sleepover with my in-laws while we have some child-free fun. If you see us snogging against some lockers, just move along. It’s my turn.
Here’s to you Valentine’s Day. I’m glad you’re still around. I’ve made my peace with you.