I know what you are going to say. Aren’t you a day late? Well, yes, but I ran out of time yesterday. I realize now writing about Valentine’s Day on the 15th is the better deal. Can one get perspective on something like a ‘day for love’ on that same day? Or does it take a touch of space to reflect?
Since I missed yesterday, I am going with the need for reflection. My story and I’m sticking to it:)
Valentine’s Day has never been an important holiday for me. It is one of those demi-holidays; the want-to-be holidays hoping one day to be a Christmas or a Thanksgiving. Shouldn’t we love all year-long? Do we really need a day to remind us to love and cherish those we say we love? Valentine’s Day exists to remind us how much our loved ones take us for granted. ‘He didn’t buy me any flowers? Not even a card? He never gets me anything.’ Well, he’s a guy. (No offense guys. I know there have to be some good guys out there somewhere.)
Or maybe I’m biased. I sent my Ex a card every day for three years and got 3 cards in return. One a year – not a bad average at all. And yes, he did give me Valentine’s Day cards and flowers, but the whole ritual felt fake. The gifts never made me feel ‘loved.’ More like he was obligated to give me the card and flowers. It’s easy to buy a present; much harder to be there every day, night and all the times in-between. The gifts were an empty gesture and I knew it.
I didn’t feel as if my card or gift to him were empty gestures. Maybe I am just fooling myself, but mine were more of a ‘please love me. If I can only give you enough gifts, maybe you will love me.’ That’s not really Valentine’s Day either. How can desperation and fear be love? Does that make my gifts an empty gesture also? That I don’t know. I guess I don’t have enough space yet to understand.
I read up on Valentine’s Day yesterday, planning to start my post with a brief history of the holiday. This, I discovered, was impossible. Being brief, that is. Like so many holidays which began in ancient times, there are theories galore about its beginning. We do know there was a Saint Valentine or rather three martyred Saint Valentines. He might have been the basis of the holiday because he helped Christians escape Roman prisons; or because he continued to perform marriages in secret when the Roman Emperor declared marriage for young men illegal (because they made better soldiers than family men.) Or, imprisoned, he sent a letter to his love signed, From Your Valentine.
Could the holiday be celebrated on the day Saint Valentine died? Yes, possible. But it is also possible the Catholic Church decided on the middle of February in order to Christianize the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Like they haven’t done that before.
Using my reflection time, I thought about how the holiday of today matches its history. Realistically, it doesn’t. Today Valentines Day is big business, meaning commercialized. How many cards, heart-shaped boxes of candy, silk heart underwear (men and women), flowers, dinners and various sundries can we give to each others? Valentines Day is the second largest card-sending holiday behind Christmas. Does that tell you something?
I have nothing against giving cards and flowers, and what not, to those you love. But why just one day? Most people might say it’s too expensive, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. What happened to homemade, to letting those we love know we think enough of them to craft something just for them? Baking? Picnics?
Even more telling, is the man (or woman) who stands beside you every day, who shares the joys and loads of the relationship 50-50. Who does the dishes without being asked – more than one day in a row. Who says ‘I love you,’ and means it so fully that you can can’t help but believe. Who slops the laundry up and down the steps for washing and then folds and puts it away? How fantastic would that be? Those willing to be loving and supportive and caring 24/7/365. It’s easy to be loving at 3:00 in the afternoon, or 7:00 pm, 11:00 am. What about 3:30 in the morning?
Harder…. much harder.
If my ‘love’ woke me at 3:30 am to say his car was broken down and could I please come get him, would I say ‘of course, just let me dress,’ or ‘what the heck? I was asleep. Take care of it yourself?’ What if it was me calling him? Both questions for further reflection. Right now, I would say “What the heck,’ but then I’ve never had anybody I’ve loved so much, or who has loved me so much. I don’t want a martyr, but I don’t want to be a martyr either.
I don’t want a Valentine to show his love one day a year. I want a partner willing to stand by me 365 days a year, through thick and thin, sickness and health, good and bad days, rain and sunshine, cats throwing up on the wood floors or peeing the rugs, broken water heaters and stopped up sinks, days of plenty and those last few days before the paycheck when we’re scraping the back of the freezer for something that resembles a meal.
How’s that for a Valentine’s Day wish? Definitely not something that will ever grace the inside of a Hallmark card.