Disclaimer: Although I personally am pro-Valentine’s Day & this post is pro-romance, I don’t subscribe to the pressures put onto us about Feb 14th, and sadly I can understand why some people have come to resent, avoid & scorn it…
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you. *
All this talk of love and soul mates, chocolate hearts and Valentine’s cards, always and forever…is there anything to it? I’ve heard people, over and over throughout the years, say something to the effect of,
“Valentine’s Day is just something created by the card companies to make money!”
But is it?
The verse above is supposedly found in a collection of English nursery rhymes – Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784)*, it’s considered a modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem. So how is it that the word Valentine was referenced back in the 18th century if Hallmark** made it up simply to cash in?
I suppose I ask because I am a romantic, and I’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want it to be a holiday made up by the greeting-card companies.
I loved it in elementary school when we made shoebox mailboxes for Valentine’s Day parties to exchange cards with classmates, then I loved it when I had a boyfriend to bring me flowers and stuffed animals. I even loved it when my own kids were school aged and exchanging much more sophisticated cards.
Those little shoeboxes that we embellished with stickers, doilies, glitter and cutouts are so super cute in my memories; who knows how accurate those are, but it doesn’t even matter. They’re fond memories, happy associations.
Am I (and countless others) a product of my literal environment – my first bedroom as a child was covered in fairy tale wallpaper, the second was different colored hearts, or would I have been this way regardless if I’d grown up with wood paneled walls? Is there any way to know? Not that I know of.
So here I am thirty-odd years later, and I’m thinking about lasting love. I know several people who have said right in front of me that they don’t believe in true love. That if anyone does they “are fooling themselves (and some even have added fooling nature, too) if they buy into it”.
Balderdash! [It means nonsense if you’ve never played the board game of the same name that came out back in 1984…the only reason I know it’s meaning, I’m sure.]
Is true, lasting love rare…I have no idea. I seem to know, or know of, a lot of truly happy couples. Albeit things aren’t always as they seem, that’s for certain. Yet I always hope they’re as happy they appear.
Some love seems to evolve into mature love. Is that less romantic? I’m not sure.
And what is a soul mate? Best-selling author Richard Bach refers to one as this:
Maybe you’ve found your soul mate. Maybe you haven’t. Is there someone for everyone? I couldn’t say. I will say I’d like to think so. But it seems not everyone needs one.
So what does Valentine’s Day have to do with love? Well what if the answer is simply this, whatever you want it to?
If you enjoy grand romantic gestures, and your partner does, too, then you can go big: diamonds, a hot air balloon ride, skywriting, a fun getaway. If you both want to stay in with take-out and get caught up on Downton Abbey, have at it – this is exactly what we did a few years ago.
Whatever you do for Valentine’s Day just be sure to enjoy it. If it stresses you out, I’d say don’t do it. If it’s hanging out with your kids and eating heart shaped cookies, or making “fancy” cupcakes and re-watching a DVD, savor every second, those times won’t be around forever.
Maybe you’re on your own for February fourteenth, but you still want romance. You can read a love story themed novel, you can watch a love themed movie; comedy, drama, or both – a dramedy, and you can even do either while luxuriating in a bubble bath with some bubbly. *Provided you have that set-up of course…we don’t want any electrocutions folks!*
Valentine’s Day comes only once a year, but it comes every year. It can get to be a chore for some of us. Maybe we’re out of fresh ideas. Maybe we’re just really, really busy.
The thing is if we’re part of a couple we need to make sure we’re on the same page as each other. That can be the source of many disappointments.
And that carries over and above Valentine’s Day.
True, lasting love works best when there’s communication.
Love should be about….
…finding a balance between thinking carefully about what needs to be said…and not leaving important things unsaid.
I wrote this down last week. Then, very soon after, I came across this quote, perfectly echoing the sentiment:
It sums up so much. I believe it’s one of the biggest downfalls in most relationship demises. When there’s little-to-no communication distance seems to creep in between people.
Terri St. Cloud from the beautiful Bone Sigh Arts recently posted this on Facebook and it is beautifully said and hauntingly accurate. It reminds us that we learn love as we go. We all make mistakes, too.
It’s how we handle it that will matter in the end.
There’s a reason the following biblical passage is so popular at weddings and unions: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I believe it is the faith in hopes that love can and will succeed. It takes work and effort, and so much more. Even then there aren’t any guarantees…
I’ll sign off by adding whether we’re single or part of a couple, some generally-happy people among us would likely be quite surprised at the depths of despair of some truly, lonely people. Keep them in your hearts and thoughts.
Personally I don’t see anything wrong with just being the way we are, though maybe it’s the labeling of everything that is the larger issue. That, and the fact that most of us aren’t a particular way or stereotype one hundred percent of the time anyway.
Everyone is mighty scared of offending others (well not everyone), but it seems like it’s human nature to categorize the things around us; including people, including love. Romantic love, casual relationships, just friends, love your fellow hu-man…and on and on.
Obviously everyone doesn’t always want a mate, and everyone doesn’t always find nor need a partner, and that can be so okay if that’s what they want. It’s all about free will and personal preference, I think. Oh, and not pressuring or judging people.
Try not to pressure yourself, or anyone else about Valentine’s Day, either. And while we’re talking about it, love in general.
Just keep communicating. And keep loving each other. Whether you plan to celebrate this coming weekend or not, do what makes your heart happy!
Forever my friend
Forever my love
Forever the woman that I’m thinking of
I just think if we keep our hearts together
I just think if we build on this trust that we have for one another
Baby we can make this last a lifetime…
— Raina K Morton February 10 2015
*Today’s title and end quote are from the song lyrics: “Forever My Friend” by Ray LaMontagne, from the amazing album “Trouble” (2004)
**Granted Hallmark has been around a long time, founded in 1910! Who knew?