Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day stirs mixed emotions for many people.
To celebrate it, we buy chocolate or flowers for those we love, and even send children to school with bags full of handwritten notes and treats for their classmates. Couples go out to dinner or exchange gifts to mark the holiday.
But what about those who are single on Valentine’s Day? What about the person whose spouse has passed away? Many people have an attached sadness to this day every year. These feelings of sadness can easily turn into an (understandable) sense of bitterness towards the day.
While this is no new concept, there is something in society that I feel has made this experience worse for many people – even people who are in a relationship on this Valentine’s Day: social media.
My first Valentine’s Day as a married woman, at the ripe old age of 22, I had a major meltdown when stores began to close and no flowers appeared. It was a Saturday night in the days before supermarkets sold fresh (or what passes for fresh) flowers. In desperation, my husband bought the next best thing: a vase from Macy’s that would hold flowers the following Valentine’s Day when he would be older and wiser.
Thirty years later, I still love gifts of flowers (and I even got a bouquet a few days early this year, to mark the anniversary of our first date!). But my idea of what counts as an expression of love has changed. For the better, I think. My friend, Anne, says it best in her poem, Love, which is reprinted here with her permission. (For more of her thoughts, check out www.anneethompson.com.)
Do I carve big hearts in the sand.
Neither do I scribble our names entwined.
Nor do I keep your photo’ under my pillow.
Nor chant your name like a rhyme in my head.
I do not whisper about you with friends,
Nor blush when I hear your voice.
I do not loiter in the places you may pass,
Nor practice smiles for you before a mirror.
My heart thrills at the sound of your laughter,
And I watch the clock when your arrival is near.
I am content when I manage to please you,
And I watch your face when you drive or read.
I learn every wrinkle that creases your smile,
And I bend to your moods as they change.
For though time may mellow and age us,
My love for you remains
by Anne E Thompson
Thank you, Anne. And thank you, Fred, for living love, instead of buying it.