Cupid Comes with a Suitcase

Posted on February 7, 2012

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A Valentine should be for every day

I’m not sure if the practice of sending/exchanging paper valentines still happens in elementary schools. Given how “un-cool” and controversial that might be in today’s education system, probably not. (If you’re “Liked” on your Facebook page that may be the closest you’d get.) My earliest memories of those Valentine’s Days were full of anticipating a pile of cutesy cut-outs with “Be Mine” on them, and then only receiving a few from classmates – usually a disappointment. As a kid, I admit I was pretty introverted and didn’t mix well with some of the more popular girls. And to be honest, there weren’t that many decent boys in my class at school; most of them thought that girls were stupid and were covered in slime or germs anyways. (That much of elementary school hasn’t changed dramatically.) Still, it’s human nature to want to be included, to be liked, to be valued.

I found out early on in life that celebrating Valentine’s Day wasn’t all about receiving the glitteriest card, or the biggest bouquet, or even an expensive bit of bling for your jewelry box – although I have been blessed on occasion with these gifts. Nope, that’s just Hallmark and FTD and Cartier getting together to convince you to buy big for one day in February, with a lag in sales after Christmas. I truly feel sorry for the boyfriends and husbands and the pressure that is put upon them to buy their sweethearts the perfect gift. By spending quality time with those you care about, either in person or with a phone call, you are touching another’s life more than you know. By restricting that act to one day on the calendar is depriving yourself and others of much joy.

Several people we know find it interesting, an ironic twist of fate I guess, that my husband and I have only celebrated a few “traditional” Valentine Days together over the 33 years we have been married. (That sounds like two old crankpots in a sea of misery, but you’d be really off the mark.) Many years ago, actually through a work connection, my husband got involved with the technical/analytical support of producing a large telethon for a children’s charity. To witness all the volunteer man-hours that went into putting on the elaborate and finely orchestrated show was amazing. And then to see the faces of the children that were being helped by the donations – so inspiring! There was hope and love oozing everywhere. You felt so very fortunate to have healthy children of your own, while learning of the obstacles some families living with disabled kids face. The scheduling of the telethon almost always coincided with Valentine’s Day and was billed as “a Show of Hearts”. It was important enough for my hubby to be where his expertise was needed for the greater good. We simply decided that our own private display of affection didn’t need to be linked to a particular date on the calendar to be real.

But as worthwhile as this annual commitment of time and energy for the weekend telethon has been for us, the down-side has been the necessary time spent apart. When people around you speak of their romantic plans for Valentine’s, it’s difficult to ignore the long distance between home base and big-city production. Does it make me happy to hear of love that’s celebrated on February 14? Of course it does! Does absence make the heart grow fonder? I would have to give a resounding “yes” to that question. I’m happy, however, that the separations are usually brief and that Cupid understands that sometimes he has to pack extra arrows in a suitcase.

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Posted in: Traditions