Happy Valentine’s Day!

So which camp do you camp in – Valentine’s Day is for sweethearts and you go out of your way to make the day romantic and special? Or Valentine’s Day is really just a way for the candy, card, and flower businesses to make a few bucks? I’m somewhere in-between.

We should show our loved ones our love every day, not just on this one particular holiday, so Valentine’s Day for me is more about being a bright, fun spot in the middle of winter. Christmas is over; spring, Easter, and Daylights Savings Time haven’t arrived yet, and other than Super Bowl commercials there isn’t much to break up the monotony of winter chill – even for those of us who like winter.

Yesterday at mass I sat behind 70 year-old Ginger. She always dresses well and often with a touch of whimsy. Over her tunic she wore a cotton collar, printed with vintage Valentine images and extending down between her shoulder blades. It made me smile when I saw it, and I can imagine Ginger laughing as she tied the decorative piece in place – on the one day of the year she can wear it. So while the day isn’t overly sentimental, bring on the reds, the pinks, the hearts, and the cupids.

Do you remember your first Valentine’s? My grandpa gave me one of his cigar boxes to bring home the die-cut cards from my kindergarten classmates. Back then they had images of kittens, puppies, and little boys and girls – all white and most with blond hair. Today my grands hand out cards with sharks, Minions, and dinosaurs on them. Mom and I made the cards I gave out in kindergarten. Of course they were red or pink construction paper hearts, then we glued on a tootsie roll – still wrapped – and she wrote ‘Will you be my tootsie?’ across the top. I wasn’t sure what ‘tootsie’ meant, but I was giving my classmates candy so I figured that was a good thing.

How about your first ‘serious’ Valentine? I was in junior high, first crush, first dances, and the first time a boy bought me a ‘soda’. He’d moved up from Georgia and they didn’t call it pop down there. I wasn’t sure what he meant at first, but I thought it was sweet when he asked during one of those dances and escorted me down to the cafeteria where they were selling snacks. Last week when I looked in my box of school artifacts for Abe Lincoln, I found Tony’s picture too.

My first Hubby’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, and our anniversary was two days later. Valentine’s Day, if we remembered at all, took a back seat to those other special days. I still honor those days.

Even today the day is low-key, not simply because we choose to do things that way, but because things tend to go a bit side-ways and we’ve just decided to roll with it. Hubby usually gives me flowers; this morning he got a pair of wool socks.

Saturday evening we went to dinner at a nice restaurant. We were seated, given our water, our glasses of wine . . . and then crickets. The waitress never returned. Another waitress in the section noticed we’d been sitting there with our menus longer than we should have, so she took our order. After that I think every manager came by and apologized. The first waitress did eventually revisit and said, “I’m sorry. I completely forgot you were back here.” In her defense, we weren’t seated in her regular section, but still . . . We laughed about it, the food was delicious, they discounted our meal, and we’ll go back. Two years ago we ate our Valentine’s Day meal at Subway and it was just as meaningful. No matter where we eat, it’s followed by a stop in the Dollar Tree for a 4 or 7 piece box of chocolate truffles.

But in my mind this day of brightness in winter isn’t just for that one special person. I have small bags of goodies for the grands. I’ve texted my sisters and a cousin, sent a small handful of cards to family and friends. It’s a stop to remember the image and purpose of love.

In my post, Psst, I Love You, from October 2020 I write about love in this bigger context, and think about that today when the stores are filled with hearts.

On my way to the Dollar Tree to get balloons to add to the grands’ bags of goodies. I hope you all feel loved today.

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