Love is a many splendored thing.
Love makes the world go ’round.
All you need is love.
Poems, songs, sonnets, film scores, books, screenplays. All written about love.
We are enamored by it. Smitten with it. Long for it. Search for it. We were made for it.
Today is Valentine’s Day.
Trillions of flowers will be bought, countless boxes of chocolates consumed, cards covered in hearts given away, sparkly jewelry purchased, marriage proposals spoken. Valentine’s Day means business. Americans spend over 20 billion, yes – you read that correctly, on Valentine’s Day every year.
Valentine’s Day is mushy and gushy – and either you love it or you don’t.
Somehow this day, which originated as an ancient Roman fertility festival, has become the quintessential moment of the year when we willingly weigh our romantic worth against the expectations laid down by a skewed definition of love that has been covered in the consumerism of our culture.
I like Valentine’s Day. When my kids were little, we would make heart-shaped cookies (sliced from a frozen chunk of cookie dough, of course) and cut construction paper into Valentine-worthy decor, taping it onto our walls and windows. We’d make Valentine’s cards and give away as many candy hearts and chocolate kisses as we would eat.
I like the romantic dinners and presents that come with Valentine’s Day. It’s a great excuse to drink too much wine, eat delicious food, buy sexy lingerie, and be a sappy romantic.
But this year, my husband and I won’t be going out to dinner, or exchanging gifts, or any of the like.
It’s not that we didn’t plan on it. We did.
This year I’m sick. I have the flu.
And since we have been married 7,416 days, we are several years past the notion that what we do on Valentine’s Day is an authentic representation of the love that we have for one another.
Because it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. Valentine’s Day is fun.
But as a society, we place way too much weight upon a day that creates expectations of love that aren’t actually realistic or lasting.
What is love?
Me last Saturday: “Honey, I think I’m sick. My throat is sore, I’m congested, and I feel like crap.”
My hubby: “Cath, you need to rest. Put everything down and take care of yourself. Can I get you anything?”
Love is not self-seeking.
Me last Sunday: “Honey, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. My legs hurt so badly and I feel like my muscles are being torn to shreds. I think the salsa that I had at that restaurant on Friday night with the girls was made with canned tomatoes. I think it’s botulism. Yep, that’s it. It has to be. I don’t think I have ever been in this much pain. Plus, my head feels like it’s about to split open. Omg, this is possibly THE worst headache I have ever had. It’s definitely Ebola. It feels like I’m dying.”
My hubby: “Sweetie, you have the flu. Let me get you some more soup. What else do you need? Can I run to the store to get you anything else? Go lie down and I’ll bring you what you need.”
Love is kind (and doesn’t judge my dramatic exaggerations).
And so he ran. Up and down the stairs. Back and forth from the kitchen to the bedroom. From the house to the store. To get more vitamins, soup, crackers, ginger ale, tea. He spent every free moment. Serving me. Taking care of me.
And then he worked a long, hard week. He didn’t get a break. But he didn’t complain that he worked and worked with little to no down time for two weeks straight.
Love is patient.
I’m still sick and my hubby is tired. And he is still making me soup, and running to the store for more vitamins and lemons and medicine.
It’s Valentine’s Day today. And we just don’t care.
Because last week, when I was in the trenches of body aches, chills, fever, and near delirium, that was actually Valentine’s Day.
This is love.
Love drives 25 miles, both ways, to get the special soup that helps heal the flu.
Love sets up barf bags next to the bed in case you don’t make it to the bathroom.
Love makes hot lemon tea and brings you Kleenex.
Love makes sure you are drinking enough liquid even when you can hardly keep anything down.
Love tells you to not go to in to work when you’re in tons of pain and having coughing fits, and brings you back down to reality that it’s important to heal instead of teach. The kids will be ok without you for another day.
Love isn’t for Valentine’s Day.
Love is for every day.
Love never fails.
You make me smile with my heart. Stay little Valentine stay. Each day is Valentine’s Day.