It's been the time of year for love-messages and Valentines cards and flowers and chocolate hearts in all the stores. Facebook has been full of roses and dinners and who was spoilt how, and that's all lovely and important. Taking time to let those we love, know it. Sharing our happiness online. It's all good.
I have mixed feelings about the day to start with. Growing up, it was for the older kids only - for when you really liked someone but were too shy to tell them. You gave them a card, secretly so they didn't see - like in their backback when they weren't looking, or slipped inside their desk (the old fashioned wooden ones that had a lid that opened). You might be brave enough to put a little clue in there ... a half name, a hint. Then you waited with breath-held to see if they figured it out. If they smiled at you differently. If you got a card in return. It wasn't a day for our parents or for anyone who was married - they had anniversaries to celebrate instead.
Nowadays it's become a commercial holiday and in the States even the preschools celebrate with handing out cards (make sure to give one to everyone in the class one so no one is left out) and parties. Cupcakes and treat bags and everything red and decorated. I do like it. Mostly. I think some of the magic has been lost. I think that the day originated in secret love notes and that's kind of the most fun ... but Americans are really really good at celebrating holidays and just making them a lot of fun, and actually I love that about living here. My cynical side just has to be quiet and join in the fun. I do miss the secret notes though, the anticipation. The anonymous roses. And yes, there were tears - more than once - but that high and low is part of life. I kind of liked it the old way.
But that aside ... we've been married a long time now and we've sometimes celebrated and we sometimes haven't. There have been years of new matching watches or big bunches of flowers and other years where it's been a simple card or a small heart shaped chocolate. I decorate the table and do a little goodie bag for the kids each year - a small gift and sweets, because living here, it means a lot to them. But for us ... it's not a big day at all. No fancy dinner or surprises. Do i sometimes wish there was a bit more romance ? Sometimes. But it's not what i signed up for, and i knew that at the time. For me there are other things that count.
This year, on the surface it wasn't the greatest day. We had had more snowfall overnight - enough to make our drive difficult to navigate but not enough that i wanted the snow plow truck to make a call. So i started digging out tracks down the drive and clearing the area around the garage, so that Clint could drive out easily as he was taking our smaller car which doesn't have 4 wheel drive. I thought he was coming to help me. Half way down I heard the car behind me and there he was, racing to catch a train at 7.30. Happy Valentines Day i thought. Here i am shovelling snow alone, for him, and off he goes without a care in the world. I did a fair bit of stomping and shouting in my head. (Mainly cos there was no one around to listen and i did not want to frighten the deer).
All day long after breakfast I could smell a burning smell in the house. I tromped through the snow (which involved climbing out of a window as the kitchen door couldn't open with all the snow piled up against it) trying to check on the propane tank - which is in itself hilarious as i had no idea what to do when i got there, but at least i couldn't smell anything strange. I was painting furniture and thought maybe that was the cause of the smell but it seemed bad at times and in spite of the snow and freezing cold, i had to have the windows open all day long.
When Clint got home (late, long day at work) he thought it smelt like oil burning so we called our fuel company and they sent someone to check the furnace. That's what we were doing at 10.00 pm on Valentines Day. Turns out the furnace was fine and maybe it had backed up during the day because of snow on the chimney or maybe not, but we felt better knowing it was all ok.
So although on the surface it wasn't a romantic day I think after all these years it's other things I value. I shovelled the driveway to make Clint's journey to work a little easier ... it doesn't matter that he didn't have time to help (or that the driveway turns out to have been TOTALLY fine to drive down without the shovelling, as shown by his get-away). That was my little gesture of caring.
And we had a furnace repairman in our house that night because although he really didn't want to, my husband could see how stressed I was by the fumes and how worried I was that we were all going to blow up. Even though he was tired and trying to eat his dinner, he called the company for me when i wasn't up to dealing with anything, and arranged for someone to come to the house. He appreciated that I needed the peace of mind to be able to get to sleep that night. And that's what i got.
So although we might not celebrate with big romantic gestures (a small bouquet of roses was just perfectly big enough for me this year) and a shovelled driveway and a furnace repairman are not normally associated with the romantic day of the year, i have learnt to find love in the everyday. In the ways we are thoughtful about each other. We don't always get it right, and sometimes I have to look really hard ..... but those small things we do for each other are the stitches in the fabric that is our life together. For every day. And for me that's good enough.