Even before a girl is six years old, she forms idealized expectations for Valentine’s Day. Inhaling the smell of cinnamon spiced heart candies in kindergarten, she clutches her tiny cheap valentine card from that special boy and creates a romantic memory.
Later, those candies will become boxes of expensive chocolates, accompanied by flowers and an expensive card, one that must be painstakingly chosen from mass-produced cards. A woman will read each and every word, adding this Valentine moment to every emotional memory from previous Valentine Days. She forms what she considers romantic .
Yet, my Valentine gift years ago had none of these romantic gifts.
It began with a hectic gathering of children.
“Mom, you’re still in your house coat!”
‘I know. Gather up all the containers and take them out to the car.”
“Gosh, mom, do you really need all this stuff?”
“Yes! Now, quickly, we can’t be late for the classes.”
On alternate Saturdays, we held a neighbourhood club. A group of mothers had decided to swap teaching skills. It was a fun event for both children and mothers. On this particular Saturday, it fell on Valentine’s Day.
Trying to find my jacket, I rushed into my bedroom, brushing passed my much despised red velvet wallpaper that adorned my bedroom walls, a throwback to the previous owner’s 1970’s fashion statement.
Grabbing my jacket on the bed, I quickly kissed my husband goodbye, and my young lads and I raced out the door for the day.
After teaching my class of 8-10 year olds how to make yogurt pancakes into hearts, our community of moms and children gathered for snacks. While the children played, we women talked of hoped for romantic gestures that our husbands might offer for Valentine’s Day. Traditional gifts of a dozen roses, a heart-shaped box with jewelry or expensive chocolates would all be gratefully welcomed and appreciated. Others already knew they were going out for dinner or a theatre event. And yet, each Valentine’s Day creates a yearning for a hoped for unique romantic gesture, especially for those of us in long-term marriages.
It is never far from a woman’s heart that her husband will show through his Valentine’s gift that he would, of course, marry us, all over again.
Arriving home rather late, I hurried to my bedroom to remove the dirty day’s clothing before preparing left-overs for a family dinner.
I opened my rarely closed bedroom door as my husband leaned into my shoulder from behind and whispered into my ear, “Happy Valentines”.
Inside, covering my bedroom walls was new wallpaper. He’d spent hours removing the long glue despised velvet one and replaced it with one that now featured my favorite flowers- daisies.
The idealized notion that romantic gestures only come in the form of a dozen roses or heart-shaped boxes holds no candle to a gift that reminds me each morning that the most precious gift is a gift of one’s time.