Valentine’s Day and I have kind of a love-hate relationship. On one hand, I am a romantic at heart and I love good, unexpected love stories. On the other hand, I see the day as a set-up (mainly for men to become oozing, sappy wimps who spend silly amounts of money on their women).
Last year I wrote a blog that made people worry a little bit about me and the way I see this sweet holiday. My daughter called me the same day I posted.
“Mom, what are you talking about?” Alicia said, a little offended that I sounded so jaded and cynical.
“Well, you know me,” I tried to offer a light-hearted explanation. “I’ve never thought that the holiday really is a day for love. It’s more about showing off and being sappy...”
“Mom,” she cut me off. “Valentine’s Day is supposed to be fun, to be romantic.”
The acorn does not fall far from the tree.
In truth, I love romance. I love feeling loved and I love showing my love openly. For years, the night before Valentine’s Day I would set up little heart placemats for the kids and surround them in conversation hearts. I gave little stuffed animals and candy to them and smothered them in kisses. They grew up loving the holiday....
Mario and I (realists--and a little silly as well) would celebrate the holiday by boycotting it. We chose to celebrate the day after, when chocolates were 50% off and the cards that didn’t sell were priced to go. We would try to out-do each other with the cheesiest cards we could find. I once gave him a “left-over” card that showed the silhouette of an African-American woman (complete with afro and formal gown) and said “With deepest love from your brown sugar.”
As the years past, the kids grew up and moved out and now Valentine’s Day was all about their significant others. They showed every bit as much attention to the holiday as the rest of the world, and left my dad and mom in the corner, mocking the holiday from afar.
I miss them all deeply, my kids. On holidays I miss them more. I am hal-way around the world, and boycotting the holiday is less fun when a country you live in is so foreign. The day after Valentine’s Day here, things are packed up and re-sold the next year. There is very little sale candies or discarded Valentine’s cards.
Mario said tonight, when I asked him what he wanted to do tomorrow, “We never really liked the holiday, are you serious?”
My husband is very romantic (in his own way) but very cool about celebrations. His favorite thing to do is surprise me. Still, I knew that he was thinking that his silly girl was disappearing and perhaps expecting a Valentine’s Day gift. He’d rather us poke fun together, at the suckers who fall prey to paying full price for the same stuff every year. I could see him weighing and measuring in his head... “How should I play this?”
Here, in the inky blackness of night, I am alone. I am separated from my family yet again... and their celebrating stories. I will not be able to talk with my kids, knowing they will all go out on dates together or smother their children in love and chocolate kisses...just like I used to do. My granddaughters are 9 hours behind me, and I’ll be lucky to catch them, on their schedule.
In a different place this year, I hand you the scribbles of a heart that is lonely on this day. Can I be transparent? It is a day that celebrates our version of romance that makes many, many people feel as lonely as I do today.
No matter how loved we are.