I’ve had a hard time writing a Valentine’s Day post today. One would think that with a subject so specific and so filled with possibilities, the task would be a cinch. But my mind and heart say otherwise.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’m solo this Valentine’s Day as I have been for the past few years. Solo in the sense of not having a partner, sweetheart, lover, husband, fiancee, not even a friend with benefits at the moment. Solo is different from “alone.”
But romantic love is currently off the table at my house. And what, if anything, is Valentine’s Day about but romantic love – hearts and flowers and cupid?
Over the years my definition of love has become both broader to include more than romantic love and more narrow as I understand that love is not many things, but a simple few. Easy things, really – respect, kindness, generosity, honesty.
I’ve been having a hard time with Valentine’s Day this year, too, because for the first time it hit me that there’s a day set aside, one “Day,” to do what people in love ought to think about doing all the time – expressing their feelings, showing in both tangible and intangible ways how much they care for each other, arranging for quiet time together, the works. Why does this happen one day a year?
No wonder we celebrate it like it was Superbowl Sunday. Well, okay, we don’t celebrate anything like we celebrate Superbowl Sunday, but it’s big. And if we did celebrate like the Superbowl, the Clydesdales would be wearing red satin tap pants.
There are a lot of stories about the original St. Valentine, but like so many things that happened in 250 or so A.D., the stories are confusing. None of them agree about much except that St. Valentine was probably martyred and died a painful and unseemly death. Always a tender romantic theme.
He (there may have been as many as three saints with the same name) might also have have encouraged marriages among Roman soldiers which got him into hot water with Roman officials who believed that married men did not make good soldiers. This perhaps led to the first “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Although there was an occasional flowery word or two about St. Valentine, Chaucer was apparently the earliest writer to link St. Valentine with romance as it is linked today with this little verse about birds:
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery byrd comyth there to chese his make.
(For this was on Saint Valentine’s day when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.)
Chaucer was a notoriously bad speller and preceded Andrew Jackson, an equally bad speller who once said, “It’s a damned poor mind that can’t think of more than one way to spell a word.” There’s also some disagreement among ornithologists as to the likelihood that birds would be mating in England in February.
But I digress.
So I’ll close with a little thought not for today, but for tomorrow. Tomorrow all the left-over Valentines and heart-shaped boxes of candy will be on sale. How about buying up a few of these and maybe a couple of packages of those cute kids’ Valentines with dumb but affectionate messages and puns and passing them out to people the rest of the year.
Drop one on the boss’s desk or leave one for the guy at the supermarket who always makes your shopping trip a little more pleasant. Tuck one in when you mail your check to the power company. Put one in your child’s lunch bag a month from now. Slip one inside your sweetie’s laptop or tape it to the bathroom mirror.
Let’s get creative and spread love and affection over the whole year. And if the wheels start to fall off your relationship, get it back together with a Valentine celebration no matter what day it is. And guys, it doesn’t require a dozen red roses. One beautiful pink rose will be enough. Or a little bouquet of tulips. Or whatever small thing his or her heart might desire. Trust me on this.
(True story: I once was given a new commode for Valentine’s Day. The wheels were not only off that relationship, but the whole damned train had jumped the track.)
What’s that, you say? Those heart-shaped boxes of candy you picked up for half price? You don’t give those to anybody, cupcake. Those are for you. Enjoy!
Happy Valentine’s Day from Miss Molly
The Cartographer’s Valentine