By: Jennifer – I Know, Right?
I used to hate Valentine’s Day.
Not because I was single and bitter. This isn’t one of those stories. I just didn’t see the point in celebrating a holiday I felt was invented by Hallmark for the sole purpose of selling cheesy, over-priced cards.
In high school, I used to roll my eyes as the popular girls in class received picture-perfect bouquets of roses and stale chocolates nestled in heart-shaped cardboard boxes. Their boyfriends made reservations at the best restaurants in town and ordered them steak—all for a holiday that had no meaning to me.
What was the point?
I certainly didn’t want a guy to spend a bucketful of money on me for such a pointless day. It wasn’t an anniversary. It wasn’t a birthday. It wasn’t a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
Again, what was the point?
When I was in college, I fell in love for the first time. I was head-over-heels smitten and I could finally understand why those silly girls in high school acted they way they did. I made it clear to Boyfriend, however, that I could care less about Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to dress up just to make an appearance at The Melting Pot. If he bought me a boxful of candy, it would go immediately in the trash.
After we had been dating for ten months, Valentine’s Day finally rolled around. Boyfriend didn’t make dinner reservations. He didn’t buy anything. He simply picked me up from class in the middle of the afternoon and drove me to the nearest park.
There was a rose garden. The roses were crispy paper shells hanging lifelessly against a dirty wooden fence. The American Midwest in February is not the most glamorous place on earth.
But sitting in the middle of the dead rose garden was a picnic.
A red and white checkered blanket covered the yellow grass and two wine glasses sat on top near a wicker basket.
“I know you didn’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day,” Boyfriend said, leading me to the blanket. “But I did. You’re the only girl I have ever loved and I want to do this right.”
He opened the basket and my eyes grew wide.
While I had been in classes all morning, he had spent hours in his apartment making all my favorite foods. One by one, he took them out of the basket. Caesar salad, mini turkey sandwiches (with the crust cut off!), hummus, and carrot sticks, and vegetable soup. When he opened the very last box, my heart melted. Inside were lumpy pink sparkly cupcakes in the shape of hearts. They were the funniest looking cupcakes I had ever seen and I absolutely adored them.
“I know the cupcakes look strange,” Boyfriend said, worried. “But I tried really hard. I wanted to make them look like the ones in the magazine that made your eyes light up.”
When I looked back at Boyfriend, with tears in my eyes, I finally understood what I didn’t understand all those years.
Valentine’s Day wasn’t about going out to dinner and receiving expensive flowers and eating little candies.
It was about celebrating love.
Giving your heart to someone is the most sacred gift you can offer and getting one in return is a blessing.
With our busy schedules and daily stresses, the most special part of life tends to go by unnoticed.
That one day, Valentine’s Day, allows us to step back and recognize it. Celebrate it. Embrace it. Cherish it.
I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure that out.
It is now five years later and I am no longer with Boyfriend. I have graduated college and moved on. I now live with another love of my life.
But I will never forget that one Valentine’s Day that changed everything.
And every time February 14th comes around, I spend a few minutes smiling, thinking of those lifeless roses surrounding the checkered blanket of proof that someone out there had loved me.