Valentines Day is one of those really tricky holidays. There's a lot riding on it, a lot of expectation, and hope and emotion and pressure. Sure, you can opt out of the holiday, but good luck trying to escape it. For all its commercialism and "Hallmark holiday" kitsch, the Valentine message is pervasive and loud: Love! Love! Love! (and, of course, just as pervasive and loud: candy and cupids and chocolates and hearts and cards and kittens and overpriced underwhelming crowded prix fixe dinner. and kittens. did I mention kittens).
|I don't know what's inside this kitten Valentine box, but I need it because the kitten looks so forlorn.|
There are so many kinds of love to celebrate on Valentines Day. I wrote a Valentine last year to my kids. I had been alone for three full years and had made peace with the holiday ... and realized that my sweet little loves deserved a love letter of their own.
I opted out of the holiday for years. And then, upon my divorce, I was opted out of the holiday. So in 2013 I grappled with that a bit, and I wrote my first post on my own. I realized that when you cut through the cliches and the saccharine and the over the top nonsense, the idea of Valentines Day was really pretty wonderful. A day celebrating nothing more and nothing less than love is really not so bad. I said the following in that blog post, some three years ago:
But I also want to turn around my thinking and focus on love and the love I want and deserve. I always think about Carrie Bradshaw's line from the finale of the "Sex and the City" series:
I’m looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.
This is what I want. I believe it is out there. I believe in love and all that comes with it -- to love and to be loved; to need and to be needed. I believe there is someone out there who will love me and get me and who knows that I would rather have one single lily of the valley stem over a roomful of red roses -- someone who knows that despite the fact that I would never ask for them, I actually love receiving flowers. I am hopeful that this will be the hardest Valentines Day that I ever have. I feel a lot like Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol, because I promise, when the time is right, I will not take Valentines Day, and more importantly what it means, for granted again. Because, despite the heartbreak and all of the struggle of life and love, I believe in love. And I believe in me.
Oh 2013 self. You had no idea what was in store for you, but you knew. You knew -- you knew deep down in your heart, in your heart that may have been a little torn and tattered, but that was never fully broken -- you knew that the love you have right now was waiting for you. That in just a few short years, you would find that someone, and you did. That you would find your heart, and you did. And what's funny and ironic is that my darling love gave me a necklace with a heart (and it's just coincidental, or perhaps serendipitous, that I was wearing my running heart headband too). The necklace is an allegory for life: my sweet love gave me his heart, but he also gave me mine.
Usually, my blog posts are directed to the world at large and all of the interwebs. But not today. Today, I am talking directly to my sweetheart. Please forgive me, interwebs. It's Valentines Day and I have a love letter to share with my darling love.
Thank you, my darling, for loving me and needing me. And thank you for letting me love you and need you.
Thank you, my darling, for making me laugh and smile, and for smiling and laughing with and sometimes at me ... and for knowing that there is a line there and always caring to protect my feelings.
Thank you, my darling, for "getting" me and who I am. From moment one. And for not only letting me be who I am, but for loving who I am and wanting nothing more, and no one else, than what, and who, I am.
Thank you, my darling, for anticipating my needs. For giving me personalized pencils and books and phone cases, because you know I spent (and continue to spend) my life looking for the elusive "Shanna" bike license plates and pencils and magnets in the souvenir shops to no avail. For giving me flowers. And chocolate. And beer that I love. Thank you for somehow knowing when I need a text with just a picture of a small soft kitten or other baby animal. Thank you for encouraging my love of unicorns and rainbows, even though you don't get it.
Thank you, my darling, for loving to swim with me. And for being patient and sweet and reassuring when we go hiking and I get a little scared. And for suggesting that we do a 5K at a local brewery in the Spring (even though you hate running) because you know how much I love running and beer. And you of course.
Thank you, my darling, for giving up watching a very important and exciting Eagles v. Cowboys game in the Fall to take me to see the band America -- surrounded by people a generation older than us -- because you knew I love their music and you knew how happy that it would make me. And how happy you were, simply because I was happy.
Thank you, my darling, for looking at me the way that you do. For the times we are looking at each other and for the times you think I don't see you looking at me.
Thank you, my darling, for being you. You're not perfect, and I do not want you to be, but you're perfect for me. You make me feel good and alive and loved and safe and adored and respected and liked and all of the things. You make me feel more like "me" and more alive and loved than I have ever felt. And you know exactly what to do and what to say. When I am having a stressful day, you make it better. You don't (and can't) fix it. But you listen and you make it better.
I promised back in 2013 that "when the time is right, I will not take Valentines Day, and more importantly what it means, for granted again." The time is now. And I don't and I won't.
Happy Valentines Day, my sweet Matthew. My heart is full with our love -- our real love ... our ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can't-live-without-each other love. Thank you for showing me, by doing nothing more than simply being you, that it's true: love always wins.