Years ago, when I was single and lonely and living miles away from any of my fellow non-attached girlfriends, I dreaded Valentine’s Day. That was when this holiday seemed to me a magical day reserved only for the coupled, who would undoubtedly spend a blissful day enraptured by each other, leaving the rest of us feeling alone and worthless.
I was surprised when a delivery man appeared in the newsroom and called my name. “These are for you,” he said, handing me a huge bouquet of balloons, the centerpiece being an enormous red heart-shaped Mylar balloon proclaiming “I love you!”
Baffled, my single heart beating, I opened the card. Everyone oohed and aahed and asked who they were from. For a split second I thought of manufacturing a secret lover, but I sheepishly replied, “They’re from my mom.”
She meant well and was so thoughtful, but it somehow magnified my lack of romantic prospects. I called her to thank her and told she’d made my day. Then I called my sister and said, “Don’t ever let her do that again.”
But of course I remember her loving gesture every Valentine’s Day with gratitude. This silly so-called holiday should be about love, after all, not romance.
Years later on Valentine’s Day, I was happily in love and preparing for a needed weekend getaway with my boyfriend, even with the loss of my mom three weeks earlier weighing heavily on my mind. A gorgeous bouquet of roses appeared on my office desk. This time the card read: “Love, Dad.”
I was so touched that he sent them, in the midst of his great grief, on his first Valentine’s Day without her. See, it’s about love.
That night, my boyfriend and I headed out of town, checked into a ritzy hotel, and went to dinner. He seemed standoffish to me as we walked the streets of this romantic city with his hand in his pocket rather than holding mine. The restaurant wasn’t very good, and he seemed inordinately disappointed about the chicken cordon bleu. We walked wordlessly back to our hotel for a nightcap and dessert.
He was so fidgety and uncomfortable, it made me nervous. Until I found out the reason for his nerves.
“So I have a question,” he said.
And he offered me my mother’s engagement ring, which she had told my sister was to go to him with her blessing. He had been carrying it in his pocket and was petrified he would lose it, so he kept his hand firmly gripped around it.
I told him about the balloons, and how she was happy that I was happy, that I had found this man to spend my life with, that she had known him, and loved him too.
A few years ago, my Valentine was a poem written by my then 6-year-old.
Roses are red,
violets are blue.
I really love you!”
Oh, the love again.
This morning, my husband let me stay in bed and surprised me with French toast. The doorbell rang a little later – an unexpected delivery of dangerously delicious chocolate-covered strawberries from my husby.
Over breakfast, we reminded our son about why February 14 is important to us, how it was the beginning of our family with him and his sister.
“Some people believe Valentine’s Day is just created by greeting card companies to get more money,” my 9-year-old said. “Is that true?”
Pretty much, I said. And it makes some people feel bad for no reason. It doesn’t matter if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s just a day for telling people we love them – even if we shouldn’t need a designated day for that.
It’s just a day, whether you have balloons and roses, or you shirk the whole V Day thing and enjoy too many shots with your friends, or spend the night home alone with a bowl of ice cream and bottle of wine, or are chasing after kids hyped up on candy while dreaming of peace and quiet rather than romance.
Whatever kind of Valentine’s Day you have, I hope you know you are loved.