Valentine’s Day is coming. I can feel my anxiety level rising. It all started in high school when they sold Vali-Grams – boys would attach messages to red carnations to be delivered to a girl’s classroom. The little delivery-cupids would walk in and all the girls would hold their breath wondering who got one. Not surprisingly, the popular girls had giant bouquets by the end of the day. I…did not. Maybe one or two and one of those was likely from my best guy-pal. That was the unfortunate start of pinning high expectations and dreamy hopes on the one day of the year when love is supposed to matter most!
Despite having been married for-ever and having many a happy Valentine’s celebration with Thomas (he is a very romantic guy), I still get that combination of nervous and nauseous excitement every year as Valentine’s Day approaches, especially as the years of marriage go by. It would be so easy to just let the day – and all efforts towards romance the other 364 days of the year, slide: “Eh, ya know I luv ya, right?” we might grunt at each other every now and again. But as the years go by and as life gets more demanding and stressful, that’s exactly when we need to nurture the love and romance between us! Afterall, it’s the romance and passion between us that keeps us from just being roomies and caretakers to our kids.
What I have to keep reminding myself is that love and romance are verbs and therefore take effort. And they are not to be relegated to one day a year. Thomas and I have romantic, wonderful times in the most unexpected, non-stereotypically romantic ways such as going for a walk; curling up in bed with a cup of coffee to watch “CBS Sunday Morning”; listening to music at a concert in the park; or even just making goofy faces at each other in the mirror while brushing our teeth. THAT’s when romance counts – when it isn’t formed and plotted and full of pressure!
This year, a new wrinkle has emerged. For the first time in our family, we have kids with a “special person” (boyfriend/ girlfriend) in their lives. Oddly, I feel the need to play Cupid! Perhaps it is because I think the kids they are keen on are really nice. I’ve even had nagging thoughts that these kids could be my future daughter/son-in-law! Courtney and I met at this age, and though it took many years, eventually we married and, well, the rest is marital history…
Of course, this Cupid has his limits – the only love I want to encourage between them is an appreciation for that relationship. A willingness to communicate one’s feelings and be vulnerable – to a point. Of course, children learn from their parents’ actions and I think over the years our family’s observances of Valentine’s Day have been wholesome fun with a modest price tag. Courtney decorates the house with hearts, makes heart-shaped pizzas and chocolate cake. I bring home a bouquet of posies for her and chocolates for the kids. And I’ve tried to remember to mail Valentine’s cards to Loveland for their special stamp every year.
Ignore the crass commercialism, pop the bubble of stressful expectations and get to the heart of Valentine’s Day! Why not celebrate a day devoted to saying “I love you!” to all the special people in our lives? Platonic, romantic, parental, whatever. Celebrate love! It’s what the world needs more of now. Love is what our children need, every day, and helping them learn how to express love for others is an invaluable life lesson.