Friday, February 10, 2012
Chocolates, Flowers and Cards. Valentine's Day Reflections......
My parents celebrate Valentine's Day in a big way. They have the strongest love and the closest relationship of any couple I know. Every year my mom bakes my dad a heart-shaped meatloaf and a cake decorated with candy hearts. They exchange chocolates, flowers and cards. Their marriage didn't start out that way. On their first Valentine's day as husband and wife, my dad came home empty-handed. When mom asked about flowers and candy, my dad replied that she wasn't his sweetheart, she was his wife. The romantic dinner she'd prepared was forgotten and instead she cried for hours. She punished him in ways only a woman can. He never made that same mistake again!
When I was married, my husband and I often made it clear how miserable we were together but every year on Valentine's Day, we pulled out all the stops. He always brought me chocolates, flowers, and a lovely card. I always reciprocated in kind with a card expressing my undying devotion and by cooking his favorite meal. We wrote tender sentiments in the cards we exchanged. I am sure we meant every word but the sweet gestures of just one day couldn't heal the hurt or the gaps between us. Our marriage ended despite all the chocolates, flowers and cards.
At times, Valentine's Day gestures are nothing more than desperate attempts to make something work that clearly isn't. Chocolates, flowers, and cards are meaningless without kindness, respect, understanding and love every day of the year.
A few years later, I dated a man who never did anything special for me on Valentine's Day. He believed it to be nothing more than a Hallmark Holiday geared toward silly men who spent foolish amounts of money on meaningless expressions of love. As a child, he was forbidden to participate in any Valentine's festivities and he didn't see any reason to celebrate it once he became an adult. Basically, he was telling me not to expect anything. At least he had the decency to share his views on the subject a few days before our first Valentine's Day together. His explanation seemed reasonable enough and I accepted it for what it was. I told him it was okay but I was still coming over with candy and a sappy card and taking him to dinner because I believed in Valentine's Day .
During our relationship, that's how it went down every Valentine's Day. I gave him candy, a card, and dinner. He accepted it all graciously but never had anything for me. I told myself it didn't matter. I loved him and I didn't want to pressure him into doing something for me that was against his personal convictions. But every year, I secretly hoped that maybe, just maybe, this time he would have something for me: a flower, a piece of candy, a card. Eventually, our relationship ended and I learned through the grapevine that he was buying chocolates, flowers and cards for the new girlfriend. And, that he had done the same for girlfriends before me. I was crushed and it was then I realized the painful truth. He didn't have an issue with Valentine's Day. He had Valentine's Day issues with me. Why? Because by accepting, placating and pulling out the stops for him and never asking for anything in return, I communicated to him that I did not believe I was worth it. So he didn't think I was, either. A man cannot really love a woman like that. If she asks for nothing, she'll get nothing. This is why our relationship ended. I never challenged him on anything- EVER. I wasn't worth the effort of chocolates, flowers, and cards. Our relationship never grew beyond casual and convenient because he was not about to invest his heart in someone who was not worthy of it. And this was my fault, not his. Lesson learned.
At times, Valentine's Day chocolates, flowers and cards mean everything. No matter how grand or small the gesture, someone is taking the time to express what we mean to them. If we're not getting or giving, we need ask ourselves why. And we need to love ourselves enough to face the cold hard facts.
And a word to the wise: if you really, really love someone- tell them. Show them. Dare to challenge them. It's worth the risk even if you lose. In the long run, it will save you years of pain and heart ache.
For those of you with partners and big plans for Valentine's Day, good for you. I wish you all a wonderful day. I hope you give and get plenty of chocolates, flowers, and cards. I also hope you do not measure love by the gestures of just one day. You will be sadly disappointed if you do.
This February 14th, I will do what I always do when I find myself flying solo on the most romantic day of the year. I will stop after work and treat myself to a gorgeous bouquet of flowers and the biggest, most expensive heart-shaped box of chocolates I can find. Then I'll head over to Mom's for her heart-shaped meatloaf and candy-covered cake. That's only place I know where every day is Valentine's Day.
And this is my Daily Cyn.............