Valentine’s Day

Considering that the holiday is all about love, there are a lot of people who hate Valentine’s Day — namely, single people who wish they weren’t so and don’t appreciate being aggressively reminded of it for the next two weeks.

Some days find us sailing alone, miles away from anything that looks like a romantic relationship. Becalmed by Steve Henderson

In my long ago college days, my dorm room overlooked a courtyard that was regularly filled with courting, and necking, and snuggling, and irritatingly happy couples, and while I sat at my desk, composing vitally important analyses of obscure 14th century poems, I understandably looked away from the task to think about something, anything, else, only to watch an endlessly changing Chick Flick unfold just outside my window.

I swear that I was the only person on that university campus to not be involved in a romantic relationship.

My mother, being a mother, understood my feelings, and two days before Valentine’s Day, a care package filled with chocolate arrived. While an extra dose of calories to the existing Freshman 15 wasn’t necessarily the answer to my angst, it salved my soul, as well as substantiated in my own life the tradition that my mother had started years before:

“Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples,” she told us, her brood. “It’s for everyone who loves one another.”

And so, in 3rd grade and high school, although I found myself unfettered by the romantic attractions of a 9-year-old or recently licensed stud, I was never bereft on Valentine’s Day, receiving, from my mother, a card, a small gift, some chocolate. While I would infinitely have preferred such gifts to be from a boy as opposed to, well, my mother, even my immature little mind could see beyond the obvious to the true:

Someone who loved me very much was doing what she could to get me through a painful time.

The older kids get, the more creative parents must be to tend to their wounds. Madonna and Toddler by Steve Henderson

I honestly don’t think my mother intended to start lasting traditions, but most of her ideas were so good that they can’t stop at one generation. While I did eventually go on to discover my Norwegian Artist on a white horse (actually, it was a yellow Datsun), it is ironic that we have never done the official Valentine Day thing — roses, chocolates, lobster and steak at a restaurant — because our first years were so mired in financial struggle that such an expenditure would have wiped out the grocery budget for a week.

But because I cook, and cook well, we celebrated, and since candles are cheap we could pretend we were in a fine restaurant, and when the kids came along we just set another plate at the table and made sure that there was enough dessert to go around. As the kids grew older they contributed to the dinner, and the day became less wrapped around Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara’s passionate kiss as it did just a bunch of people who really like one another, and really love one another, and get through this highly commercialized and over-hyped day by sharing it together.

Years ago, an older couple celebrating their anniversary invited the Norwegian and me to an exquisite restaurant in observation of their special day.

“But it’s your day,” we protested. “You should celebrate it alone.”

“Our friends and family are as much a part of our lives together as we are,” they replied. “It gives us joy to be with the people we care about.”

Sometimes, the important things and people in our lives are so regularly there, that we don't notice the way they tumble down to surround us. Stonework by Steve Henderson

Oddly, they’re not related to my mother, but they could have been — generous minds thinking alike.

May your Valentine’s Day be a truly happy one, surrounded by the people you love, reminded not of your relationship status but of the extraordinary friends and family who are there for you every day.

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About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. In addition to her This Woman Writes blog, Carolyn writes a regular art column for FineArtNews, an online newsletter for artists and art collectors.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, blogging, Christian, Culture, Current Events, Daily Life, Encouragement, Family, Humor, Life, Lifestyle, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Valentine’s Day

  1. V-day has always been a non-holiday for me. But it brings out the sweetness in my husband. He goes out and buys the kids a bag of their favorite chocolates. Each. And reminds me why I fell in love with him in the first place.

  2. It always amazes me how it is the small things that make up the big picture of life. I wish you, your husband, and kids a day of warmth, laughter, and love.

  3. just lovely! what a great mother, and daughter, and, no doubt kids… 🙂

  4. Jana Botkin says:

    I gave my husband a pass on the day long ago. He shows me he loves me when the opportunity strikes (blooming daffodils from an abandoned yard, anyone?) so he has no need to feel railroaded into conforming with the calendar. Loved reading this, Carolyn. Practical, sweet, genuine love observed among family and friends is much more authentic than the coerced guilt-ridden overpriced observances between a couple.

    • Jana: I love daffodils — Wordsworth’s poem, “Daffodils” is one of my favorites. Sweet, haunting, elusive, beautiful — like the flower itself.

      Like you, I gave the Norwegian Artist a free pass on pressure- and guilt-induced holidays. I don’t need a dozen roses three times a year to know that he loves me; when he spends his free Saturday fixing the goat’s gate because they’ve been getting out and I’m worried about them, I know he loves me (although, at that particular moment, he’s probably not ready to talk about it much).

      I am sorry for people who must deal with dysfunctional families, and I hope that somewhere in their extended tribe, they find one or more people to whom they connect and can be themselves around. Family is one of the Creator’s best and most enduring gifts.

  5. I so love this piece! I love my parents and siblings much but have not thought of this! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful piece!

    • Thank you, teeceecounsel — family that we can love and who loves us in return is a gift so priceless that it is indescribable. I hope you and your tribe connect on Valentine’s Day in an extra special way, but then again, it sounds as if you are doing that every day of the year. A Happy Day to you!

  6. Jennie says:

    Such a lovely blog post!

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