I know we're on the backside of the big Valentine's Day extravaganza now and everyone is pretty much pink and red and heart'ed out. But I've been chewing on some thoughts around this most controversial of holidays and I wanted to throw my two cents onto the table before the champagne bubbles have finally fizzled out.
I'm going to put it right out there. I love this holiday. I love the corny, the dress-up, the chocolate and the anticipation in exchanging gifts.
But there was a time when I didn't.
I blame it on my first Valentine's memory traced all the way back to the 1st grade. I remember anxiously picking out my box of Valentine cards at the local drugstore and going home to sign my name to each one before passing them out at school the next day. I also remember putting aside one I thought looked a little special to hand specifically to a little boy I had a crush on since being seated next to him on the first day of school that September. His name was Jonathan and he was one half of a set of twins in my class that year. It rained that day. I can recall sitting all day waiting to hand out my box of cards in the last half hour of class. Then, when it finally came time to pass them out, I did to everyone in class except Jonathan. See, I wanted to make sure he knew his was special so I saved it until the bell had rung and we were on our way out the door. And just as we pulled our book packs onto our backs to start the walk home, I handed it to him. I can't remember what he said to me when he opened it, but I remember the hot rush of blood to my face as he angrily tossed the open card onto the ground in front of my classmates and let me know it wasn't something he wanted from me. I remember the long walk home that day under my umbrella and can still feel the stomach twisting anxiety I had about having to return and sit at my desk beside him the next day.
I think I carried that first lesson in rejection with me into the many school time Valentine's Days that followed. I dreaded that box of Valentine's to sign and pass out every year, if only because it reminded me of that embarrassment. But somewhere along the way, I got caught back up in the candy hearts with little messages and flowers along with everyone else. Maybe it's hope or just plain ol' human resilience. I can't say that there hasn't been another situation or two reminiscent of that 1st Valentine's Day, but over time, I've grown quite fond of the Lover's Holiday and come to look at it from another perspective.
It can be polarizing depending on what side of the relationship fence you sit on and the commercialized aspect of it can be not only hard on the pocket book, but heavy with expectations and sometimes disappointment.
That all aside, as I wade through my day of crazy along with everyone else on the planet, I welcome any occasion that gives people cause and pause to tell each other how they feel about one another. The cynic will argue that people should say the things we say on Valentine's Day every day. I wholeheartedly agree. Call it stubbornness or laziness or plain old forgetfulness, but life often gets in the way and people don't always do that. If it takes a special day on the calendar to make people reflect a little then what's so bad about that?
I spent some time yesterday reaching out to those I love to wish them a happy Valentine's Day and let them know how much I care about them. Among them, I spoke to my little niece and got a full run down of her first Valentine's Day at school. We talked about what she wore and all the candy and towards the end of our conversation she let me know that she was disappointed because "Anthony didn't give me a Valentine." She too has a crush on the little boy she sits next to. My heart sank a little bit.