Valentine’s Day is the generic, store bought, pre-packaged, not even store-baked cookie of holidays. Its sweetness, if real and not a chemical mix of artificial sources, is pleasant enough, but it typically lacks originality precisely because the manufacturer was striving for conformity.
Does anyone ever eat an Oreo for example and exclaim while mindlessly shovelling cookie disc after cookie disc into a gaping maw decorated by chocolate scummed teeth… “that seventeenth one, in the second sleeve, now that was cookie perfection”? Of course not. No single SBNESB (store bought not even store baked) cookie can by definition and design be more special than the next.
Photo safari to one of Maine’s haunted lighthouses
So back to Valentine’s Day – in general terms (legal disclaimer: based on my personal, limited, and not statistically measurable so therefore unscientific observation) most of us want to be the one true love of our partners. So why would we expect our partners to express romance on a predetermined date with the following predetermined gifts: red roses, heart shaped box of mass produced chocolates, and the available everywhere perfect card for you and the other 325,520,397 (the current population of the United States of America as of Saturday, February 4, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates) U.S. citizens (international sales would make this number higher)?
Yet it’s hard to fault Valentine’s Day when it was the impetus to write this blog of gratitude. And in fairness, I love the chance to say “I love you” when there are any number of crazy things in the stores to help create that message. I made homemade heart cookies with store bought cookie cutters. I think it’s funny and fun to try and craft heart-shaped pancakes with the same red plastic cookie cutters, and design a menu of reds (Shotfire Ridge wine, lobster, tomato salsa, red velvet cake), pinks (shrimp, Crema Rosa sauce, strawberry smoothie or soup), and whites (bread, mashed potatoes, butter cream icing, prosecco), but it’s the year not the day that matters.
What isn’t romantic – for me, a loved one feeling railroaded into being romantic on a specific date. Someone being taken advantage of with higher restaurant prices on a specific date when menus are limited, and overcrowded restaurants hope to turn over the table faster than you’d like to eat. If he enjoys it, that’s fine, but if he doesn’t that’s okay, too. Not romantic – getting a gift of ‘sexy’ lingerie – boy, that seems pretty self serving. Let me buy my own and make it a gift for you. I’ll make sure it’s the right size, doesn’t have scratchy bits, can be removed relatively but not too easily (no velcro. see part about scratchy bits) and is machine washable. A four pound Hershey’s Kiss – not my favorite chocolate, and detrimental to the wearing of the sexy lingerie. Gas station flowers on Valentines Day – since the mind is just about the sexiest thing about a guy, knowing he used it to come up with a custom flower mix on a random date amps up the appreciative response so much more so than sensing he felt panicked and stressed and so picked up the first thing he could find BECAUSE it was ‘the’ day. Gas station flowers on a non-mandatory, flower giving day are okay, too.
What is romantic – kindness, thoughtfulness. When my husband is so repeatedly helpful to my father, and even spontaneously researches treatments and clinical studies for him upon learning of a new ailment, it makes me swoon a little. When Jon randomly does extra cleaning because he wants to make me happy, I remember how lucky I am. When Jon regularly brings home flowers for no other reason, than to please me. When he is on the floor engaging with rabbits or worriedly brings them to the vet – it’s like magic.
When he picks out a drive to a location I might like because he thinks I need a distraction (even if it ends up that the destination was subpar upon arrival), I love him a bit more for the effort. Any of our photography adventures cold or warm when we feel that flicker of love and competition, wanting to capture the best photo but simultaneously hoping he takes an awesome picture, too. When after that extra glass of wine he says he is living the best part of his life despite current challenges, I bet you could see cartoon hearts popping out of my eyes.
Jon says love is like a bank account, you keep making deposits, so if by chance there is a time when you miss a deposit, the balance is still in your favor. Take that Valentine’s Day!