A Pragmatic Valentine’s Day

I don’t remember my Dad making a big deal of Valentine’s Day.  I’m sure he did something, probably involving Whitman’s Chocolates.  I remember taking Valentines to school and the mini-agonies of getting fewer than your friends or picking out a special one for a girl but not getting one in return.  As a husband, I always tried to surprise Muri for Valentine’s Day, reading dozens of cards to find what that was just right, and buying her lots of presents including her favorite, See’s Candy.  In the best years for our business, the gifts were quite extravagant and given during Valentine’s Day mini-vacations in beautiful places.   Now, we’re in our sixties.  When holidays roll around, neither of us can think of gifts we really want … or, as Muri puts it, The things I want you can’t buy.  Besides, Valentine’s Day is my oldest grandson’s birthday and we’re here to help him celebrate.   So, it will be A Pragmatic Valentine’s Day, carefully picked out cards and I love you, nothing more.  To be honest, I can’t get used to it.

But perhaps, it’s appropriate given the real history of the holiday, a mostly defunct Catholic holiday celebrating two obscure saints, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni, who were martyred in the early years of the church.  Valentine’s Day had no romantic aspects until 1382 when Chaucer wrote,  For this was on seynt Volantynys day; Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.  Yes, I know… he means, For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.  It wasn’t until the Renaissance that the day became associated with romance and cards weren’t sent until the 1700s.

Not everyone loves the over-the-top, flashy romance of the holiday, either.  Petula Caesar, in an article titled Just Another Day on citypaper.com cites a significant part of the population that feels anger, sadness, resentment and disgust toward Valentine’s Day.  She includes those with Valentine’s Day battle scars, those who haven’t found love and those who have lost it, one way or another.  Perhaps a more pragmatic celebration would be kinder to those who’d rather skip the day.   In an irony that I can’t wrap my heart around, while I celebrate my grandson’s birthday on the 14th, my brother, Glenn, grieves the loss of his son, who passed away one year ago.   I thank God he has his wife and Valentine, GeorgeAnn, by his side to carry him through the day.  I love you, Glenn, and hold Jason in my heart and prayers.

So, when I say Happy Valentine’s Day this year, I mean this:  May love grow in your life with each passing day.   May each day lessen the pain of love lost and increase the joy of love held.   May the love of those still with you and the memories of those departed temper your grief.   May you love fully and without reservation.  And, of course … to Muri: You are the Love of My Life.

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14 Comments on “A Pragmatic Valentine’s Day”

  1. I don’t “hate” Valentine’s Day; I just wish that I could honestly say it never leaves its little pinpricks. It shouldn’t – I find it a kind of false occasion and, while I like it to be acknowledged if I’ve got someone special in my life, I don’t need it to be much. What bothers me most about the day is that I can be affected at all by something as random as a date on a calendar that I’ve been trained to believe is supposed to prove something about my value my some narrow definition. It’s not just about romantic love; we’ve just been trained to think it is! Hope you have a great day and that Reed has a great birthday!

    • oldereyes Says:

      I agree the date means nothing unless we make it something. We’ve just always chosen it as a day to celebrate our love. We’re just relearning how we celebrate. Reed’s birthday was a lot of fun.

  2. Judy Says:

    My thought is, celebrate love every day and every other opportunity you have a chance to, romantic or otherwise. 🙂

  3. Cheryl P. Says:

    I have never gotten into giving or receiving large gifts on Valentine’s Day. In my mind, V Day borders on a manufactured holiday to promote sales of gifts, candy and flowers. I know that is very “unromantic” but I tend to be pragmatic about a lot of things including various holidays. I, like Muri, have everything I need and want. (money can’t buy) A holiday suggesting that I need flowers and candy isn’t necessary.

    I love that you always acknowledge Muri as your true love. I doubt that any one gesture given on Feb. 14th would approach the significance of the ongoing blessing that you two are for each other. Kudos to you.

    How nice that today is special for your grandson but truly sad about the loss of your nephew.

    • oldereyes Says:

      The good thing about the day is that people have been sending their love to my brother in many ways … cards, calls, emails and Facebook posts …which are helping him through. And we had a good time celebrating Reed’s birthday.

  4. marjulo Says:

    We always acknowledge Valentine’s Day with a card. We don’t do gifts very often, but have taken mini-vacations. That’s not true this year because of my health problems. My granddaughter was here yesterday and is so excited about the party at school, plus the card exchange–and maybe one from a BOY! She’s nine going on 18 in so many ways…

    • oldereyes Says:

      Yes, Reed chose us to come to school for his Valentine’s Day party and it was so good to see him in his element and with his friends. Then, he got to come home and celebrate his birthday,

  5. Speaking as one who for the majority of my life has been the “odd one out” with respect to Valentine’s Day, it’s never really held much for me. But I liked your words and sentiments about the Day very much because it opens the day up to all! And here’s a little something I read on a Facebook post from a Canadian blogger/FB friend that a family member of hers had posted.
    “Instead of celebrating a boy-girl relationship, today I’m celebrating the relationship between me and everyone that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my life. So to those of you who have shown me love, happy Valentine’s Day.”
    Now that one made a lot of good sense to me too!
    Happy V-Day to you and Muri and Happy Birthday to Reed as well!

  6. territerri Says:

    I typically have a bit of resentment about this holiday, but manage to have a little fun with it anyway. I like your more generous response to what the day is meant to be and from now on, maybe I’ll give it a little more leeway in my mind.

  7. Awwww….. Bud! That was beautiful. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  8. Coming East Says:

    Valentine’s Day has never been a big deal for George and me. We give each other cards, and the past few years George takes me out for dinner, but nothing fancy. I think it’s been built up to be something way more than it should be, but the younger folk seem to like it. Every day is Valentine’s Day at our house, so we don’t need a date on the calendar to remind us how much we love each other. Like you and Muri.

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