Valentine’s Day Is What You Make It
Way back in elementary school, we were exposed for the first time, to the lack of effort and commitment to celebrating Valentine’s Day. Of course, for many, this was also the first exposure to rejection. For me, our art class time was dedicated every year to making homemade Valentine’s cards to be distributed to the “class” mailbox that had been created in our classroom for just this occasion. Other years, we got even craftier, creating our own Valentine Mail Box out of a shoe box so that our classmates could watch each other distribute their cards to everyone, well almost everyone. Needless to say, I did not care about Valentine’s Day in elementary school.
In my later school years, I have to admit, Valentine’s Day did mean a little bit more, as actual interacting with someone meant developing feelings, so there was this “feeling of love” that could be associated with celebrating Valentine’s Day. For me this carried into adulthood.
I do consider myself to be a bit of a romantic. And I can admit that there are at least two that will disagree with that statement. But if they dug deep down into memories through the relationships, they will find that at least for part of the relationships, there was romance.
Over time, I can admit that I have become a bit of a cynic, that Valentine’s Day has become nothing more than an overcommercialized event created by Hallmark. My attitude has always been that to celebrate love, you should be in love. And if you are in love, then it should be celebrated every day, not just on February 14th, so why single out a particular day? Most people will celebrate an anniversary of their relationship whether it be by weeks, months, or years. So again, why create another day, other than to profit off the smitten?
It is this cynicism that has provided countless television episodes dedicated to the simplicity that a lot of men have towards Cupid’s holiday.
All that is often expected, and I am emphasizing expected, is that perhaps flowers and candy are remembered, maybe a romantic dinner, and of course… wink, wink… some romance.
But as I said, I believe myself to be a romantic. I have never had any difficulty coming up with ways to woo anyone special in my life. Three marriage proposals (only resulting in two marriages) all were orchestrated romantically from the actual act of asking the father to marry his daughter (even in her middle age I did it) to dressing up as a Disney character delivering balloons with one balloon asking to marry me (she had no idea I was in the costume).
Last Valentine’s Day was a day that I would rather forget, and not because of being in the process of my second divorce, but it was around that time that we discovered that my father’s cancer had become terminal, and I would spend the next many months by his side, acting as his medical proxy.
So following my father’s passing last May, and with the process of my divorce still continuing, and missing my children, I have not felt like celebrating holidays in the traditional sense. Which kind of makes this year’s Valentine’s Day have a special meaning to me once again.
Josephine and I have gone through a lot of tragedy and stress over the past year. I lost both my best friend of 14 years in my Golden Retriever and my father who was not just a parent, but a friend and confidante. Josephine had just lost her son, who successfully completed his treatments for the same cancer I once dealt with, only to pass away from complications of a side effect from one of the drugs used to put him into remission. Needless to say, neither of us have really put any heart into celebrating anything.
But that is not to say that we did not recognize the holidays. Because of other issues, celebrations have been kept quite humble. Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve were not about gifts and late night partying, it was about spending time together, not just ourselves, but with others who were spending holidays alone, or also were looking for other ways to spend the holiday.
Valentine’s Day will once again be recognized by me after a one-year hiatus. But unfortunately for Hallmark stockholders, it will not be their benefit. No, this year, Valentine’s Day is all about spending time with someone who wants to spend time with me, and me with her. We like each others company. And we both comfort each other in dealing with our losses, and other pains that we are dealing with emotionally. It is because we both know that things will get better for both of us, that this holiday will probably be one of my most memorable Valentine’s Days because it is truly about love and caring for those, not just in their happiest and most romantic of times, but even in the darkest days of struggles.