Back in the mid-90s, when I was young and single, I happened to be in New Zealand on Valentine’s day, yet no stores were adorned with red and pink hearts, no bars were holding special events and large heart-shaped boxes of chocolaty goodness were virtually impossible to find. Valentine’s Day may have been big business in America but it’s reach wasn’t entirely international.
These days, Valentine’s Day adornments can get a little out of hand, promoting the term Hallmark holiday, but it truly is more than that. Exchanging mementos of love on February 14th in the United States dates back as far as the 1700s. Love poems, sweets, jewelry and flowers all have the makings of a romantic day.
Before we became parents, my husband would shower me with a beautiful arrangement of flowers and my favorite chocolate and raspberry truffles. We’d plan ahead and go to a nice restaurant for dinner and enjoy our favorite wine, even if the holiday fell during the work week. We both oozed romance.
Then we had kids.
For the most part, romance takes a backseat when you first have children. I attribute it to pure exhaustion. It’s difficult to bring the sexy back when you are so tired you don’t give a damn because you are operating on 2 hours of sleep and drinking your body weight in coffee. Children demand all your time and attention and romantic dinners at places you need to make a reservation are out of the question.
So romance goes by the wayside, but the love remains.
Valentine’s Day with children really becomes all about the chocolate and cut-out paper hearts. And possibly lots of glitter. It’s not overly romantic but it’s love.
My children are older now, though not yet old enough to have a Valentine of their own that’s not a family member, so we still rarely go to restaurants that require reservations, but they are old enough to understand that Valentine’s Day is about more than just candy. My daughter calls it the heart holiday, because that’s really the point behind Valentine’s Day...it is a reminder to love.
And this is especially important now, with the disengagement between our previous administration and our current one. Whichever way you lean, the take-away should be unity. We should love all the time, not just because the calendar tells us to.
So this Valentine’s Day, make the reservations, buy the flowers, eat the chocolate but also hold hands, give hugs and kisses, speak kind words and really listen…and carry that practice with you through all the remaining days of the year.
“There is only one happiness in this life, to love and be loved” ~ George Sand