My husband has always had it easy on Valentine’s Day.
“The Man who Would Become The Husband” and I started dating on Jan. 13, 2000 and we had not had more than a handful of dates by the time the commercial onslaught of Cupid rolled around.
As the 14th approached, I found myself in a tricky situation that required careful negotiation. If I expected huge romantic overtures from him, after only a month of dating, well… I thought it would make me seem needy and high maintenance. (And while I am most certainly high maintenance, my endless needs stem from an emotional place, not an aesthetic, materialistic place. I may be exhausting, but I am not expensive!)
My alternate concern: If I expected nothing after a month of dating, would that make me:
(A) Nothing more than the chick he was sleeping with. (Yes, gave it up on 3rd date.) OR
(B) A cold customer, passing through for a shag & some laughs, sending more mixed signals than a base coach with bed bugs?
I decided to just hit the poor bastard between the eyes with it.
“Let us celebrate Valentine’s Day,” I told The Man who Would Become The Husband, “but let us not go the way of those who will be raked over the commerical coals in order to prove our mutual adoration.”
He agreed this was a good way to go. (He is not stupid.)
And so a tradition was born. Every year on Feb. 14th we order take-out and watch “Harold & Maude.” Sometimes there’s a card. Sometimes there isn’t. Last year, I got post-it notes. Not heart-shaped. Just yellow square ones. But understand, if you can, that I dearly love a post-it note. (They make my world go ’round with minimal disruption.)
This year, our son, now 5, is in kindergarten at a local public school. He and his classmates have made adorable little mailboxes in anticipation of the VDay festivities. The teacher has informed class parents that students are encouraged to exchange cards and treats with their friends.
‘Nuff said. I love a project!
I set to work immediately, first trying to engage The Boy’s limited attention span in crafting homemade cards for his pals. He made 3. I continued on without him, making the other 17 myself, trying to style them so they looked like the handiwork of a 5 year-old with a limited attention plan. (Not an easy task.) After the completion of the cards, I bagged little treats in adorable heart-printed bags and tied them with curly ribbons, hole-punching and attaching the cards until I had a pretty little package for each classmate, and extra special gift bags for his teachers.
Was I done? Heck no!
I then painted The Boy’s name on a mini mailbox I found at Target ($1!!) and decorated it in a gaudy and kindergartner-attracting fashion. I filled it with candy and Valentine’s Day cards, and wrapped a couple additional little items just to increase his Valentine’s Day morning thrill.
At this point – 11pm, Feb. 13th – I turned to The Husband, who was about to sneak off to bed, and said:
“Hey, before you head up, will you fill out one of those Care Bear valentines and pop it in The Boy’s mailbox?”
To which he responded:
(Wait for it…)
“I [effing] hate Valentine’s Day.”
I stared at him for a beat…
Then let loose:
“Really? Really?!?! Writing the Boy’s name in the ‘To’ spot, then writing ‘Dad’ in the ‘from’ spot? Too hard for you? A burden is it? ‘Cause I could probably forge one for you, if it’s just too much for you to handle!”
I took a breath…
And then explained in, what I am sure was a completely reasonable manner, that celebrating Valentine’s Day was not about the “stupid Hallmark holiday” (as he likes to call it) but teaching The Boy about expressing his love and adoration for his friends, about learning how to give as well as receive, about having art projects that can be shared and purposeful, about correspondence and about marking time on a calendar. The Boy is learning how the calendar works, how one day is different from another and how the year is cyclical. Holidays happen over again every year and can mark the different months and seasons. And, and, AND! Valentine’s Day is not about spending too much money on a girl who may or may not deserve it, or about being manipulated by Corporations, florists, and restaurants with jacked up prices, but about bravery, selflessness and belief in love. St. Valentine risked everything to sanctify forbidden love, marrying Christian couples in secrecy, Roman Empire be damned. Once discovered, Valentine himself was beheaded by Claudius II, his life a literal sacrifice for love that was not even his own. If this is all true, and I like to think it is, Valentine was one very brave and selfless dude. He put his life on the line because he believed love was worth such risk.
So, is Valentine’s Day about love? Sort of. But really it’s about having the balls to stand up for what you believe in and caring about human connectivity.
Well, The Husband was duly chagrined by my rant. Or maybe just tired and a little bit scared. Either way, the clever guy apologized, filled out the flippin’ Care Bear card, put it in The Boy’s mailbox and turned the little red “mail’s in” flag up.
Being a benevolent and loving wife, I accepted his apology, then gently reminded him that St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and in my best brogue, told him he better "Erin go brace himself, 'cause we're gonna be celebrating that too."