Then he dropped a bomb.
“I have to be out of town the second week of February,” he said. “Um, including Valentine’s Day.”
I wanted to object – and loudly – and was about to do so until I realized two things.
First, he didn’t control when that workshop was scheduled. Yelling at my husband would accomplish nothing, with the big exception that it would make him feel horrible about something he had no control over. Making him feel bad for stuff that isn’t his fault isn’t exactly a good way to keep my marriage strong.
Second, I realized that Valentine’s Day – day of love and presents and chocolate and showing the one you love how very much you care for him – is a manufactured holiday.
Yup, you read that right. Manufactured.
And I don’t need some particular day of the year to know that my husband loves me. He shows me all year, in large and small ways, that I’m important to him.
And so, we started a non-celebration of the one day of the year that everyone spends showering each other with presents and flowers. We do exchange Valentines – home-made – and he sometimes will buy some chocolate for the girls – usually from Wal Mart or the Dollar Tree. But the big celebration – the dinner out, the present, the flowers – are no more. And it is, frankly, a relief. Besides, it was probably about 7 years before he was even home for Valentine’s Day after that first trip to Texas.
Instead of getting flowers or presents for February 14, I like to think back about the ways I get Valentine’s Day all year long.
My husband gives me so much all year:
- he works hard to provide for our family, making sure we have a roof over our heads, clothes to wear, food to eat, and reliable transportation
- he sacrifices things he wants for the benefit of our family, including trips to sporting events and nights out with the guys
- he will often come home and help with dinner or dishes, even after an exhausting day
- he changes my oil for me, and has done so since the week we were engaged
- he gives me back-rubs when I’m sore
- he mows the lawn on hot summer days
- when I’m too nervous to handle some task that requires me to be sociable and coherent at the same time, he’ll often step up and help me out, or even take over when it involves a potential conflict
- he watches movies with his girls that he would certainly have no interest in otherwise – I cannot count the number of times he’s watched Disney princess movies
- he trusts my judgement on things, even when I am being more strict than he might be
- he doesn’t *let* me homeschool – he whole-heartedly supports our doing so!
- he makes sure our family goes to Mass and Confession as much as possible, to be sure our spiritual life is growing
I could probably go on and on about how amazing and wonderful he is. And I learned to look at my life this way – seeing these small gifts as the greatest ones I have – all because one day my husband told me he was about to spend Valentine’s Day in Texas with a bunch of store managers.
What this means to our girls is this: Valentine’s Day, while a nice time to give cards and indulge in a little candy, is certainly not the big deal you’d think it was if you got all your information from television ads. It’s a nice day to tell someone “I love you,” but, really, what day *isn’t* a good day to do that?
What Valentine’s Day is *not* for them is a day to make up for the rest of the year. It’s not a day when you treat someone vastly differently than you do the other 364 days in the year. It’s not a day to go nutso and buy some extravagant gift like a diamond ring or an iPad. It’s not a day to go crazy and buy a dozen roses (for more than double the price)! I’ve frequently tole both my husband and my children that if he bought me anything like that for Valentine’s Day, I’d probably clock him!
Our family Valentine’s Day is going to consist of home-made Valentines and a nice dinner. As a matter of fact, I just looked and realized that I scheduled leftovers for the menu. Shows you just how little I pay attention to February 14, doesn’t it?
Of course, just because it’s not important to celebrate, that’s not stopping us from doing something different this year. I laugh about the fact that we’re actually going to a dinner-dance at our parish tomorrow night, especially since we really don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. But the Knights of Columbus is having a dinner-dance tomorrow, and the proceeds are going to a food bank in the area. So we’re going to get dolled up and head out for a romantic dinner. At a table for six. At our parish social hall. Honestly, it’s the only Valentine’s dinner that really fits us, I think! Heck, I might even dance!
But barring the Knights doing this again next year, I anticipate going right back to our usual Valentine’s Day: leftovers, construction paper cards, and snuggling on the couch while we watch a movie with our girls.