Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Am The Ghost of Valentine’s Past…

Valentine’s Day. You’re either for it, or against it. Ok, let’s face it… you’re against it. Pretty much everyone is. I actually feel really bad for guys on Valentine’s Day. Why? Because it’s supposed to be about love. Somehow it’s become about who’s boyfriend/husband did the most romantic thing for them, which is really stupid. And that’s in the GRAND scope. Because it’s not just about this Valentine’s Day, and it’s not just about these boyfriends/husbands. It’s about every single boyfriend/husband on the planet in the entire history of Valentine’s Day. Even your ex-boyfriends/husbands.

I’m not exactly sure why that is, but I know most people either roll their eyes in disgust at the very idea of the holiday, or fill up with dread and angst because they happen to be single when it rolls around. Then, there are the few each year who have to endure painful ghosts of Valentine’s past. Some memory that was so wonderful the year or two prior that has now become unbearably painful and is forever marked by heart-shaped boxed chocolates and long stemmed roses that surround you despite your best efforts to escape them.

I propose we look at Valentine’s Day in a new way. Bear with me a second here.

Ever have that conversation with someone about “What was the best Christmas present you ever got?” You think back, you recall some Christmas morning when you were five or six, and you got the one BIG present you had asked Santa for. Or, you recall a year when something really funny happened at the dinner table, or you remember something meaningful that happened that you always think of at Christmas, and it’s usually a memory that brings a smile to your face and warms your heart.

Yet, because Valentine’s Day is so frequently associated with things that have broken our hearts, we tend never to look back on the best Valentine’s Day we ever had and say “Oh, one year, this guy I was dating sent me balloons at work and then took me to my favorite restaurant and we had the BEST time,” without adding … “and then three weeks later I caught the son of a bitch cheating and I slashed his tires. God I hate Valentine’s Day.”

I propose we make a real effort to let go of the ghosts. I’ll start.

The best Valentine’s Day I ever had, was with this guy who sent a dozen red roses to me at work, and then took me on a Harbor Cruise in Boston. We were dressed up, we were in love, we had a great dinner, we danced, we even got to go up to the front of the ship and hang out with the Captain. It was chilly that night, and he gave me his coat and stood with me looking out over the reflection of the moon on the water. We had a really, really nice time. He had planned everything behind my back and it was really sweet.

Another year, (and, a different boyfriend) I received a massive bouquet of exquisite long stemmed pink roses at work with the most beautiful, romantic card you could ever imagine. It made me feel incredibly special. Especially considering that he’d sent me flowers just two days prior for no reason… just to tell me to have a good day that day. So, when the pink roses arrived, all my co-workers were astonished and jealous, and I felt completely spoiled.

This year, I happen to be single. Valentine’s Day is for lovers. As 2011 starts off, I don’t have one. But really… big deal. There have been PLENTY of years in my life when I was single on Valentine’s Day. There were many years when I was married on Valentine’s Day. None of it really means anything, does it? I mean, in the moment it does, but if you’re single on Valentine’s Day, it’s kind of like having a “just ok” Christmas. There’s always next year… and as kids Christmas is this magical, carefree, crazy time … and then you become an adult and it’s about shopping and wrapping and budgets and all the other not-so-fun aspects.

Valentine’s Day is sort of like that. You have these high expectations, you have these images shoved in your face by the media and you feel like “Gee, nobody ever hands me giant pieces of jewelry or gives me a Lexus with a big red bow on it.” Well, of course they don’t! It’s like that once in a lifetime Christmas. You only got the shiny new bike ONCE, didn’t you? You’ve recounted the happy memory of that Christmas with a quiet smile and a glimmer in your eye since you were eight years old, and you know that’s all right. Besides, Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, anyway.

Valentine’s Day is about love. If you have love in your life… a boyfriend, a fiancée, a husband… if you have a best friend, if you have parents, siblings, kids, or anyone at all in your life who you love… who loves you back… you’re blessed and that’s your new focus for Valentine’s Day, 2011.

Take the pressure off yourselves and your partners. Reflect on the love that exists in your life and celebrate it in some special way that is unique to that relationship. The ghosts of Valentine’s past can’t haunt you if you smile at them and tell them they’re beautiful memories. Know that just as Christmas returns every year, so shall Valentine’s Day. Some years will be more romantic than others, but like anything, you don’t appreciate the good if you never experience the not-so-good.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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