The concept of Valentine’s Day seems simple and well meaning enough – a day to stop for a moment and add romance to our lives.
But then we get the “retail contingent” telling us exactly how to be romantic and that’s when the trouble starts – with their one-size fits all mentality. And I admit I’ve fallen for some. Rose petals on the bed? Why they just lodge themselves in unsavory places and leave pink streaks where they get crushed on the sheets. I’ve even taught myself to shuck raw oysters only to end up with bloodied thumbs and the realization that neither my husband nor I like briny things with the consistency of phlegm. Then there’s reclined kissing in the incoming tide which is an open invitation for sand and sand fleas to hitch a ride to paradise. What’s left – Boudoir shots? Ummmm no thank you, too easily repurposed as ammunition by future exes and political adversaries.
Men are no better served by the information glut – they are told by all those winged angels (who may actually be too top heavy to fly, although no one knows how bumblebees fly so I can’t rule that out completely) that women like scratchy skimpy push em up and out, pump up bras and matching dental floss-backed panties. And the guys, well they might be willing to suspend belief to imagine their wife of 25 years would like them and that the scratchy skimpy undies of unnatural materials will, once applied, magically transform their lovely wife into a preternaturally skinny but buxom 20 year old celestial being. But then who is that gift actually for? Men are also told all women want jewelry and according to the jewelry store story they all want the same piece of jewelry because nothing says love like celebrity-endorsed, mass-produced, over-priced, created diamonds. To be clear, this kiss, does NOT begin with Kays.
So why do we listen to the media when we should be listening to the one who makes our hearts race? It’s not all bad. It’s because our hearts are in the right place and we want to please, to be exactly right in our expressions of love. But we need to trust in ourselves and enhance our listening skills and remember what starts one woman’s heart aflutter, may start another woman’s divorce proceedings.
My vet Dr. K. swears the most romantic thing she ever got from her husband was “a goat hay rack in our rabbit room after I gave birth to our son. Romantic is knowing what will really make me happy, and accepting wholeheartedly with good humor that I’m not a jewelry and flowers type female.”
And she and I are among a handful of women that understand that . Two days after I had surgery, instead of the traditional bouquet, my husband got me a Bongo Boy, a Flemish giant rabbit baby that could, we hoped, top the 20lb mark at maturity.
A friend, Patrick L., wrote: ” I am guilty of not being the most romantic husband but on our anniversary I do take Ellen to dinner where we had our first date. Believe it or not, that McDonalds drive thru is still there. The price of a #5 may have gone up over the years but I still like to do this for her.”
Susan C. P. told her tale of romance witnessed that brought tears to her eyes: “….one of the most romantic moments I was lucky to witness..a man came into our flower shop and arranged to have a beautiful bouquet of flowers, roses, ready for his girlfriend for when they came in later that day…he told me she used to walk by our shop as a little girl and look in our windows and dream of all the beautiful flowers…so….they came in later that day and he presented her with the flowers, got down on his knees and also presented her with a ring and proposed!! ”
Joyce C. keeps her love young and vibrant every time she looks at the ring her husband gave her . “About fifteen years ago, I went to bed after my husband had already retired for the evening, and there was a velvet ring box on my pillow! It was an antique diamond ring! Looooove it still now! We have been married for 45yrs and it still feels like young Love!!!‘
Norma B. finds romance every month: “We were married on the 27th. Every month, on the 27th, Wally wishes me happy anniversary.”
My mother called in with this one. My grandfather just loved my grandmother and saw her through eyes colored by that love. Whenever he traveled he’d remember her with a little gift. After one trip he returned with a baby blue one-piece snowsuit. In a size 4. My grandmother though only 4’11” could best be described as apple-shaped, but in his eyes she was the perfect petite snow bunny.
One of Elizabeth N.’s favorite romantic gestures – her boyfriend thoughtfully and gently helped her put on and remove her shoes and boots.
And how do we women reciprocate ? My husband sometimes misses the subtler romantic gestures like laying out a clean towel for him, or helping him find whatever it is he’s looking for. So I try for bigger impact especially after the silk, heart-strewn boxers didn’t really cut the mustard (Dang!I bought into another retail myth) but his two favorite romantic antics – I rented a lighthouse for dinner-for-two for his birthday and then took him back on our recent anniversary, and I hired a hot air balloon for a sunrise float just barely above the lakes and trees of Southern New Hampshire.
Ann D. a talented artist created a design element for a tropical trip and had it printed on t-shirts for their journey. It later became their emblem influencing their wedding ring design as well as a wrought iron statue in their garden.
Lisa M. hand-wrote and illustrated with a dip pen and sepia ink a thick book of verse on hand-made paper with a velvet cover. It took her months to do. Must have been some guy!
Claudia J. submitted this charming gesture “Well….I put a sweet note and a few Hershey kisses in his luggage when he was always traveling for business.”
Romance can be big or small, it’s all in how the right person knows how to make us feel good, special, appreciated (and in the case of Honey S., when she’s under the weather, feel better) and above all loved.
Lawrence M. is an extravagant Valentine “Was a number of years ago but an ex’s birthday was also on Valentine’s Day. I flew her to N.Y.C. for dinner & we were back by mid-morning. Good time. I even let her fly a bit after I trimmed things up! Just got in touch with her after 25 years. It still stuck out in her mind. ‘If you’re caught up between the Moon & New York City’!!!”
And Lawrence’s story sounded so wonderful to me. I love it when my husband whisks me away from work even if it’s just up the street for a 5-course wine pairing dinner at Keon’s Bistro, but there was a prickle of memory surrounding Lawrence’s story. And then I recalled that in my 20’s, I’d been whisked all over the place by a former beau: a helicopter ride around Boston, a flight and daytrip to Nantucket, a perfectly constructed picnic among the Newport mansions and until I read Lawrence’s story, I’d forgotten about them. My experiences with him, I learned shortly thereafter were less about romance and more about coercion, trying to make me believe he cared; these trips were part of his repertoire of “what women should like”. And so I pretty nearly forgot the extravagance because without the right heart accompanying the gesture, it isn’t worth remembering.
And yet I remember clearly my husband cleaning the house and preparing me a simple dinner when I returned from a long arduous business trip. And I remember the first time he came to my home, Thankgiving night, and he was juggling somewhat unsuccessfully a small ceramic pot with a mini Christmas tree, a homemade CD of Celtic music, his sister’s homemade wine and a piece of pumpkin mousse pie. The lump sum total of everything he brought might have been $25 – but to me it was a priceless expression of a kind-hearted man I wanted to know more about.
So my advice – Do NOT try these ideas at home. Come up with your own unique gesture of romance for Valentines or anytime you want the one you love to know you are very aware of how lucky you are to have found each other.
(c)2014 by Alison Colby-Campbell
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OTHER BLOG POSTS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:
If she is a flower kind of gal – here is one of my earlier posts about the different meanings of flowers and their colors http://wp.me/p13Md6-FT
And here’s another post about a very romantic date my husband and I shared with Livingston Taylor http://wp.me/p13Md6-N9
High 5 Ballooning. We had a great time with this hot air balloon company http://www.high5ballooning.com/
The Lighthouse Preservation Society Dinner a delight for lighthouse lovers like us http://www.lighthousepreservation.org/dining.php
Give love get love at the MSPCA Nevins Farm Adoption Center http://www.mspca.org/adoption/methuen-nevins/
Want somebunny to love? Check out the House Rabbit Network (HRN) rabbit rescue group. http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/
How about original and or commissioned art from Artist Ann Trainor Domingue? http://www.anntrainordomingue.com/