Valentine’s Day is upon us. According to Bankrate, the typical basket of goods and services exceeds $500. Expectations are high, especially among women. That “basket” includes chocolate, diamonds, roses, dinner for two and a bottle of champagne. Individual expectations may vary from that, but for many the day won’t come anywhere close to their idealistic expectations for expressions of love and romance.
The basket referenced above didn’t include a card. I happen to love cards…any written expression of thoughts and feelings is dear to me. Hence, there is a keepsake box of cards on my closet shelf from, no kidding, the 1970’s. As I sorted through it recently, I found a folded sheet of notebook paper. It was a Valentine note from my husband.
We were new parents. Our little Kathy Jo, as we referred to her then, was not quite five months old and we were….well, economically challenged. There was no budget for chocolates or flowers, and in that era expectations didn’t yet include all of the extravagance outlined above. All of those were luxurious and honestly, not on my radar. In fact, even cards were not in our meager budget. So, this man took a sheet of notebook paper and penned words of love and devotion.
Though I have no fancy card today,
complete with sweet refrain,
you’ll always have the sweet assurance
of my love even when I’m old and on a cane.
When I read that again, I laughed. Out loud. I LOL’ed, something that I don’t do that often, but how sweet. I wasn’t laughing at his silliness as a young husband, rather at the irony of his prose.
How could we have known what he was prognosticating, that more than forty years later we would be walking through a season that we couldn’t have dreamed of then? He’s recovering from back surgery; and he’s relying on a walker. Face palm.
We can afford to buy cards these days, but ouch! I admit my irritation at paying $5 for a valentine. Over the years, he’s bought many beautiful cards; in fact, this man usually buys two for every occasion – one funny and one elaborate with lovely sentiments. As I pulled that box down and again sifted through its contents in preparation to write, the handwritten note is the one and only valentine remembrance there.
I married a romantic. He’s hired barbershop quartets to serenade me, one of my favorite and yet most awkward valentines. Four men surrounding your desk as coworkers gather round whilst they sing sweet songs of love and devotion is an original and fun idea. However, everyone watching your face for a reaction is a lot of pressure even if you aren’t an introvert! However, to this day, when I hear those sweet harmonies I remember his thoughtful surprise.
Roses, chocolates, dinner dates and jewelry – over the years as the budget allowed each has played a role in the annual observance of a day set aside to celebrate love. I’m a romantic as well. If you read my “We Kissed Dating Goodbye” post and think that I’m not into that, I misled you. I love making plans for a special evening out… planning an outfit that will thrill him, anticipating the foreplay of sweet talk and stolen kisses in an evening devoted to just us two. Now that’s a date that’s going somewhere.
I’ve been pondering all of this as the big day approaches. I listened to the woman who called the radio station complaining that her boyfriend refused to join the commercial madness that is Valentine’s Day (his opinion, not hers or mine). She had minimum requirements. Anything less than her expectations meant he didn’t care enough. Based on what I heard, they were significantly more than words penned on notebook paper, but somewhere south of the $500 estimate by Bankrate.
It’s ironic that in a time when lovers are sometimes cast off like last year’s fashion, the outward expressions of love are more extravagant than ever. It’s also easier than ever to make things happen with our access to virtually (no pun intended) everything on the internet. Faster than you can write a few lines of silly prose you can make dinner reservations, order flowers complete with candy and stuffed animal and check her Pinterest page for the perfect bracelet. Just a few more clicks and love is in the air.
That note I received all those years ago didn’t end with the silly poem. The sentiments that followed were filled with promises and hope for the future. The last paragraph is remarkably apropos:
“As a new phase of our life begins I look to you for encouragement and support and most of all, your love. I love you more today than ever before.”
Today more than ever, with your Facebook feed filling up with pictures of flowers and gifts and status updates from dinner dates, it’s tempting to devalue simple expressions of love. Compared to the highlight reel of others your love life may appear to be pretty normal.
For many, normal is no longer an option. Today, I read this, Rory Feek’s plans for his last Valentine’s Day with his beloved Joey: “…I’m hoping for a few soft kisses. The passion for each other that Joey and I once had has been replaced by the sweetest, gentlest kisses. I live for those kisses. They are enough.”
This year, consider this: the purest expressions of love from a sincere heart will not only be enough, they will endure.