To be fair though, it is a single girl’s DUTY to be cynical on Valentine’s Day.
Who else is going to gag over all the girls swooning over lavish gifts and laugh at the men sweating bullets over their presentations?
It’s kind of the unspoken rule when you are single, to be grossed out on Valentine’s Day. Plain and simple.
But deep down… well… I’m about to shed a little light on all that gagging…
It’s a survival mechanism.
When you walk through the store as a single girl and the aisles are packed full of giant teddy bears, the sweetest cards EVER, and bouquets of flowers you will never receive… well… it’s a little heart-rending.
It’s kind of like finding an awesome tie on clearance and having absolutely no one to buy it for. Or being the only girl without a corsage on the night of a banquet. Or being asked, for the millionth time, “when are YOU getting married?” when you have absolutely zero prospects on the radar. When it’s the tie, you frown quietly and walk away from it. When it’s the corsage, you just keep a contented smile on your face throughout the night so you don’t draw any attention to yourself. When it’s the annoying “When are YOU getting married?” you laugh and make a joke of it…
But on Valentine’s Day… you gag.
Maybe it’s because it’s such a public thing. It’s a holiday that people everywhere are celebrating, and you can’t celebrate. It’s like the Christmas of romance and your friends ditch you in the middle of nowhere while they go off to enjoy the day.
I have to admit that the year I shed my lifelong singleness and Valentine’s Day became relevant in my life, I was pretty excited about it. I didn’t know what Mark would do. I didn’t expect much since we had only begun talking 4 days earlier… but it was an important time. For the first time in my life, I was going to find out what it was like to be on the receiving end of all this love that was circling around.
Mark would nervously consult his friends about an appropriate gift and spend forever in a card aisle trying to find the PERFECT one…
Later he would present it to me so humbly that I would melt into a little puddle in front of everyone.
Obviously, I knew that love was not all about the cards and the gifts and the chocolate… but I have to admit, that I did look forward to a lifetime of Valentine’s Days. All that ROMANCE! What girl wouldn’t look forward to a day that truckloads of romance are delivered to her doorstep?
Back then, all that romance was the height of our experience. Walking back to the house with a bouquet of roses that were given as a public declaration of his love? That was cloud one hundred and nine! What could beat this? I honestly felt levels of emotions in those days that I never experienced in my life. Imagine! Living 23 years and never knowing you could feel something like this!
But, single girls…. Dating girls… courting girls… I’m going to fill you in on a little secret.
Prepare for this. It will happen.
One day, that romantic knight will forget his horse.
He will forget Valentine’s Day.
Or your birthday.
Or your anniversary.
Maybe all three!
But, I’ll let you in on another secret.
It’s not the end of the world.
For us, it was only our second Valentine’s Day. You believe that? We were still engaged!
Mark forgot Valentine’s Day.
He didn’t just forget it either. He missed it, and then when it came and went, he brushed it off altogether.
Now, don’t be an idiot like I was.
I tried to be mature and unselfish but… it didn’t work out so well.
I was humiliated because people were asking what Mark did for me for Valentine’s Day, and I had to find ways to cover his tracks without making him look bad. I tried acting like I wasn’t bothered or hurt by it. But… then it just kind of came out of my mouth and… ta da!
Over Valentine’s Day…
Back then, fulfilling your role as a person in love on Valentine’s Day was a big, humongous, gargantuan deal. Demonstrating with special care and attention to detail that your girl is worth your time, money and meticulous planning was an enormously important factor. It was not only feeling like you were special to someone, but proving to others with those precious gestures, that he thinks highly of you.
I had expectations. I expected him to deliver the romance and… he didn’t.
I was devastated. And I thought… If he was forgetting Valentine’s day while we were engaged, what would he do when we had been married for 20 or 30 years….
I mean… this is VALENTINE’S DAY!
This is the height of romance!
This is like Neil Armstrong landing on the moon!
This is the event of all events for people in love!
It’s like Valentine’s Day was the end all and be all of love.
Of course, we laugh about this now.
Tonight, I squeezed my way into a nearly impassable card aisle to find my husband the perfect card.
As I was standing there, turning card after card over, and seeing hefty prices like $9, $8, $11… I couldn’t help but feel like it was superficial. While Wal-Mart was exploiting romance and using guilt and duty to take advantage of people, I was preparing to empty our pocketbook to buy someone else’s words to tell my husband I loved him.
There was a time when it would have been important to me.
There was a time when slapping down nine dollars on the most absolutely perfect card would have been essential to demonstrate my love to Mark.
There was a time that him reciprocating with an equally lovely card would have been important to me.
There was a time when a Nintey-Seven-Center would have felt like a slap in the face.
But there is something that love and marriage has taught me.
Love and marriage has taught me that extravagant presentations, even though they are pretty romantic, are such a tiny, minute fraction of the true depth of love.
I’m not trying to be a wet blanket on Valentine’s Day, but when the rose petals and floating hearts settled, and the intoxicating doses of serotonin leveled out, and cloud nine quietly lowered me back to earth, I realized that love is a lot deeper than that. Love is more than stuffed animals and chocolate and a $10 card.
Love is choosing to say it yourself, with your own words, because 1000 other people bought the same card you were about to , and your love was not something mass produced in a factory.
Love is buying the unruffled 16.oz bag of candy for $2, instead of the $5 heart shaped box of 12 wrapped candies so your husband can have 4x as much candy and not have to figure out later where he is going to scrounge up gas money.
Love is Mark going to work every day to provide for his family.
Love is washing his laundry, picking up his dirty socks and cooking him supper even when you have a headache.
Love is listening when the other has a concern, and making changes in our attitudes and demeanor because it is important to the other.
Love is making a conscious decision to put each other first.
Love is the everyday sacrifices.
I left the card aisle to find my husband. I knew he was already thinking it, but wouldn’t dream of suggesting it….
“Mark… how about we pass on the cards this year? We can write each other a note instead.”
He agreed and my heart went “pitter patter.”
Not because of an expensive Valentine’s Day card…
But because he works hard for the money we just saved.