Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

I can't decide what to think about Valentine's Day.  I've only ever celebrated with one man before (sorry, but junior high and before doesn't count, though I do miss those school parties where everyone makes a "mailbox" out of paper plates to hang on their desk for the purpose of collecting little V-Day cards from your classmates).  So I've always celebrated (or not) the day along the lines of what worked for me and Brian.  He hated Valentine's Day, though we always did observe it in some way. 

Brian wasn 't a very romantic person.  While his proposal to me was a grand, sweet, romantic gesture, he wasn't that way in general.  He didn't like being "mushy" or declaring his undying love -- it was enough that we were together, and that we knew we were in it for live with one another.  He would ask why he should have to spend two or three times' market value to send me flowers on a commercially-dictated date to prove that to me or anyone else?  Hard to argue with that logic, though a part of me always certainly hoped he'd give in to what he knew to be my desires and just send a massive bouquet to surprise me, just once, on Valentine's Day.  We had love, absolutely, but not a ton of romance.  There didn't seem to be a point to going out to dinner, either -- facing a crowd of people who are getting their obligatory date night on....why?  We went out to nice dinners all the time.  There wasn't any place in town we saved for a "special occasion" -- if we wanted a night out, we'd just pick a place, pick a night, and do it.  Still, we'd always do a little something.  We'd exchange cards, small gifts, and share some chocolates and wine.  One year -- I think it was our last Valentine's Day together, though I'm not certain -- I cooked a filet mignon dinner and set up a candlelit dinner in front of the fireplace in our living room.  It was more for me than for him, and he knew it.  He called me on it, too, and I eventually had to cop to the fact that I was making my own Valentine's dream come true, knowing he didn't see the point.  I asked him to just indulge me, and he did, begrudgingly.  Then I got frustrated that he didn't appreciate my efforts -- Valentine's Day or not, I'd love to come home to a candlelit steak dinner to enjoy with the one I love.  One year, we had a couple single friends over and shared wine, heart-shaped pizzas, and candy while we played board games.  That was a great year.

I've gone through two Valentine's Days since Brian died.  The first year, I spent with my parents and in-laws, writing thank you cards to people for funeral assistance, flowers, donations made in Brian's name, and the like.  It was awful.  Then we all went out for dinner and I was a sore thumb on the end of the table.  Some old teachers of mine saw us, and surrepticiously bought my meal for me.  It was a sad, hard day, though that would have been true no matter what the calendar said.  I was just then realizing how much life without Brian hurt, how much I would ache for him, and how hard my path was going to be.  Last year, I spent the evening with three other single ladies in Austin and treated myself to steak and red wine.  It was a fine evening, and I think it really helped that the weather didn't feel like Valentine's Day, and I didn't have to go into an office where everyone else was getting flowers and I was left reminded of how Brian never would be able to send them to me, even if he changed his mind about his "no-flowers-on-Valentine's-Day" policy (he would say, "Why don't you just let me wait a week and send them when they cost half the price?"  I don't think I ever told him he couldn't send flowers a week later, but I also don't recall that he ever did that.)

Now, I'm in a relationship again, but I don't really care about this holiday.  I feel like Antonio and I have plenty of romance in our lives anyway -- we declare our love sincerely every day, we dance in the kitchen when there is no music playing, we snuggle on the couch, we light candles at dinner when the urge randomly strikes, we get lost in each others' eyes.  That happens in our everyday lives; not because of some holiday requiring some special effort or front.  I don't want to have to exchange gifts -- we just had Christmas and my birthday, and his is coming up soon anyway.  We are going to go out for a nice dinner, in part because we have a gift certificate to a steak house that we intended to use on my birthday (until I got sick).  We look at the day as an excuse to go have a good dinner.  That's fine with me; I love food. 

Let me add - I don't think there's anything wrong with Valentine's Day -- it's a nice excuse to eat and drink some tasty, indulgent things, and to spend special time with the one you love.  I don't need presents, flowers, or jewelry though -- just my man and a tender piece of meat,cooked medium rare and accompanied by a glass of strong red.  That sounds good any day of the year.

I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day, whether single, widowed, married, dating, or something in-between, however you choose to celebrate (or ignore) it.

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