Valentine’s Day 2012 – The Aftermath

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed last Tuesday and I spent my day working hard not to spiral while watching the world spiral around me. Now, a few days later, I can put some perspective on this strangest of holidays.

February 14 comes at arguably the most crushing time of year for people who live in cold, dark climates. Perhaps it was invented as a bright spot to look forward to while enduring the grind of mid-winter survival. Almost like the full moon, it brings out the best and worst in people, whether they subscribe to it or not. The dream is a magic-filled day; the reality an arbitrary obligation to spend a couple hundred bucks on a Tuesday.

Which is also garbage night. And a school night.

February 14 comes with such high expectations, yet it takes me by surprise every year. My man and I have celebrated 17 Valentine’s Days as a couple and we hardly ever made a big deal of it. Flowers, chocolate, maybe a nice dinner. This year, I thought it was important to mark the first Valentine’s Day of our marriage, so I made dinner reservations. Then I realized that we had long-standing plans with friends on Saturday and we just couldn’t afford to do both. So, I cancelled the reservation with no back-up plan besides some panic shopping. I worked diligently all day to lower my expectations.

I arrived home late from work to a hungry family who greeted me with roses, hugs and a breathtakingly sweet song (performed by my breathtaking 4-year-old son).

No, it wasn’t an expensive candlelit dinner with wine. But I knew that when I cancelled the reservation.

As my son snuggled into bed that night, I could see the wheels turning as he tried to figure out why we celebrate Valentine’s and what he could expect next year. I explained that nobody really knows what to expect on Valentine’s Day, but it’s a good day for doing nice things for other people and thoughtful things for the ones you love.

That simple message is so easily garbled by the hoopla.

So, I have a year to think about what to do in 2013. How much do you want to bet that it takes me by surprise again?