After ten months of caring for my mother-in-law in our home, my wife is convinced that dementia is contagious. I’m beginning to think she’s right. My daughters are getting used to being called by the wrong name, I’m having a hard time remembering what day it is, and several times this winter I’ve stepped outside to a blast of cold air reminding me that I forgot to zip my pants. God only knows how many times that happened last summer.
All last week I thought today was tomorrow. Well, not that Monday was Tuesday – I’m not that far gone. But I had the dates all mixed up, and I thought today was tomorrow. And this is not the day to mess up. If you’re married, today comes second only to your anniversary. If you’re dating and you’d like that relationship to continue, this IS your anniversary. And if you’re married and today really is your anniversary, thanks for screwing it up for the rest of us.
Yes, today is Valentine’s Day. It’s a day to remind that special someone just how special you are in their life. Or maybe that’s the other way around. I get confused sometimes. Either way, it’s a day of romance, of intimacy, of “hooking up.”
I always wondered about that term. Exactly what is “hooking up”? I always pictured a car hooking up to a boat, but apparently today’s generation doesn’t share my affinity for the water. To them it can mean anything from two people checking the right answer on a “Do you like me” note to … well, hooking up. When I was younger, we had a few other names for that. I think “hooking up” is probably an improvement.
Back to Valentine’s Day. I’ve tried over the years to become more passionate about the day, but I have to be honest – I just never was into the whole thing. And if my wife is reading this, raw broccoli just got added to tonight’s menu. But bear with me.
Growing up, I always thought Valentine’s Day was a day for kids in elementary school to eat candy hearts and share cheesy little cards with one another. By the third grade, I was finding it increasingly difficult to send a card that read, “Be my valentine” to another boy. But we had to give them to the whole class, so I guess we all felt equally emasculated. We learned humility at an early age.
But in junior high, we stopped decorating shoe boxes into which classmates would drop cards, so I figured we had outgrown the whole thing. Okay, maybe I really am as stupid as I look.
But think about it, what is Valentine’s Day anyway? Looking back in history, the only event of real significance that occurred on this date was hardly worth celebrating. In 1929 a bunch of gangsters were found massacred in a Chicago garage. Nobody knows for sure what happened, but rumor has it they didn’t buy their wives anything for Valentine’s Day.
All through high school, as I was starting to date (notice I said starting), I never gave Valentine’s Day a second thought. I also never had a girlfriend for more than a year either, so figure that one out. When I started dating my wife, I remember her mother asking, “What are you getting her for Valentine’s Day?” Huh? You people actually celebrate this? With gifts? What planet are you from?
So I learned. And like everything else in life, I learned it the hard way. So guys, let me share the benefit of those lessons. This is a day to shine up your romantic side. Be attentive. Hold her hand. Sing to her. But only if you can do it with a straight face.
And if you forget everything else, just remember one thing – chocolate. That’s all she really wants. It doesn’t matter what else you’ve done, if you forget the chocolate, you’re sleeping on the couch. Diamonds are the only acceptable substitute, and they’d better be big enough to see with the naked eye, or you won’t be seeing anything naked tonight.
This is not the time to be frugal and wrap up a bag of Hershey’s kisses (it’s really not as cute as it sounds). Boxed chocolates guys – she expects the best. And she probably won’t be turned on by your ability to spot a bargain. If the box weighs five pounds and costs less than $150, look at the other end of the shelf. In fact, you might ask the clerk to show you the private collection they keep locked in the safe. It’s there, but you have to ask.
Also, this is not the time to think about her health, or prove that you’ve been listening to her all year when she complained about her figure. “You wanted chocolates? But I thought you said you were trying to lose weight.” Okay, I’m kidding! I would never say such a stupid thing, and you can bet I’ll never say it again.
Which brings me to my dilemma. We both started a fitness and weight loss program in October. Part of that is going to the gym several times a week, and part is changing our eating habits. She gave up soda and chocolate. I gave up … well, I haven’t really given up anything , but I do feel bad when I eat it. Does that count?
Still, she’s gone four months without chocolate. Oh, I think she’s taken a bite now and then, but that’s about it. When it comes to willpower, she’s can run circles around me.
So as I write this today, the question that lingers is chocolate or no chocolate? I can go with tradition and hand her a gift that says, “You’re starting to look pretty sexy – let’s fix that!” Or do I buy her a pair of hiking boots and eat broccoli for a month? Decisions, decisions.
I’m sure I’ll figure something out, and I’m sure it’ll be the wrong decision. But she knows it comes from the heart, and that’s what really counts. She’s learned not to expect miracles. Every now and then I hit a home run. But a base hit still keeps you in the game and can eventually put you in scoring position.
If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that the best gifts are the moments we share together. A warm hug, a gentle kiss, a few laughs, a weekend trip, watching a movie, dinner for two, or just talking to one another as we walk through the grocery store. An occasional flower or stuffed animal doesn’t hurt either.
So make today count. Show the one you love just how much they mean to you. Then do it again tomorrow. You don’t have to wait for a special day. Because every day is Valentine’s Day.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon