First, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Why is this such a complicated day? It’s supposed to be about appreciation, adoration and friendship. The story I know about St. Valentine was he was a priest that would marry couples for love, rather than for religion. This day was dedicated to him, to honour true love. Today it is most commonly celebrated by young children scribbling their classmates names on little paper cards with favoured cartoons, eating gluten free cupcakes and paper bag mailboxes to carry those little cards back home.
I remember a few Valentines fondly. My favourite took place in grade five, or fifth grade if you will. My grade school sweetheart sneaked in a puffy stuffed velveteen heart. There was no tag, but I knew who it was from. It made me blush, but in a wonderful way. As it would turn out my first real kiss would be shared with him a little over a year later.
It was a school sleep-away camp trip that all grade six students had the chance to attend. It was the last night of our week away. There was a silly carnival with funny booths. One was a wedding chapel. My girl friend dared me to go up and wait for my husband. I took the dare and thankfully my sweetheart joined me. We exchange our pipe cleaner rings with a promise to always pick up each others’ pencils, offer a piece of fruit for lunch and other harmless vows. There was no kissing at the end, but rather a firm handshake.
The sun had started to set. Most of the kids were playing soccer in the big field, a few others were starting to search for sticks for marshmallows and hotdogs. Sweetheart and I decided to do the same. We were walking through the woods, when I tripped and twisted my ankle. I wasn’t badly hurt, I just needed to sit down. He led me to the end of the dock that overlooked the lake. Swans started to swim up. (I know … out of a movie … ) The sun was a bright ball of orange just hovering above the horizon line. My feet dangled in the water. Sweetheart asked if I felt okay. I nodded, not wanting to break the magic around us. He turned his beat up ball cap backwards, and slowly, gently, sweetly kissed me. Closed mouth. Innocent. I beamed, so did he. He held my hand until we realized the sun had set, stars were starting to twinkle in the early twilight, and it was time to re-join the group. His last words before we departed; “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older?” Maybe … but that memory is still as alive now as it was when I was eleven.
So why then is this day so complicated? What if we stopped focusing on the commercial side and refocused to the emotional side. There is nothing wrong with giving cards, flowers, chocolates, or singing stuffed toys, but this may be the day to go beyond that. Those things are honestly pretty easy. Go to store. Pick out chocolate. Give chocolate. Try not steal one, or two, or three. Maybe though, we could think outside the chocolate box a little.
The secret, at least in my opinion is truly knowing your special someone. Whether it be your child, who you know loves shaped cookies more than most treats, or your husband that really just wants two extra hours of uninterrupted shut eye, your wife who would love nothing more than a few hours alone to browse the aisles at her favourite shoppe, your mom who appreciates a handmade card more than a Hallmark one, or a quick facebook post of a vintage chicken valentine to a best friend … you get the idea. When we go above the expected, we can truly make that person feel extra special. Just as St. Valentine did so very long ago.