Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Heart (Hate?) Valentine's Day

As a child, I developed a Love/Hate Relationship with Valentine's Day. And on its 2008 Eve, I am conjuring up some contemporary loathing after a period of Relative Neutrality.

This is directly associated with the fact that I have a four-year-old, and it's her first year of Valentine Trading at Preschool. Our task tonight was to produce valentines for her classmates, all 37 of them. Her preschool helpfully suggested that each student could just make 37 valentines with only the giver's name on them...like, "From X Kid," or "Regards, X." So as to simplify the process. Hence, no list of all classmates sent home. I appreciate the sentiment, really I do.

But what this really means is that there are two options in this Choose Your Own Valentine Adventure:
  1. Parent writes X's name on 37 valentines on her behalf, or

  2. OCD Daughter X wants to remember each of 37 classmates and write their AND her own names on Each Flipping Little Card at 8:30 at night. And we have to Keep On Spelling as she Randomly Recalls Fellow Preschoolers. We curtailed this operation and turned it into a Write Your Own Name ONLY Assembly Line after Tears of Anguish and Confusion ("How will they know it's THEIR valentine, MOM????) and I'll Be Damned if she didn't write her name, DOGGEDLY, 37 times, in record time. That's my girl.
I had major waves of deja vu as I watched her pour her little heart into her little valentines, and explained to her AGAIN how it was all going to work tomorrow, this Valentine Trade Game. And I can only imagine that she is headed down the same path as her mother, the path of High Valentine's Day Expectations, Low Returns.

My mother reminded me of Valentine's Day in 2nd grade, when I woke up sick but didn't tell her because I So Very Badly needed to be at school for our Valentine's Day Party. I have a clear picture of myself, post-nurse's-phone-call-home-to-mom, walking down the hall with my "Heart Man" in one hand (made of a construction-paper-heart body, with four accordion-folded limbs with heart-shaped hands and feet attached--I know you know what I am talking about) and my mother's hand in the other.

In 5th grade, I talked my mom into letting me buy a Real Bona Fide Full-Sized Valentine (I must have convinced her it was for Someone Related To Me) in addition to the requisite Box O' Little Cheap Fold-Ups. The Big Valentine With Its Own Envelope was for Gary W. I loved him in my own crazy 5th-grade way, and surreptitiously put the Big Card in his Valentine Pouch on the back of his chair with High Expectations of I Am Not Sure What. The moment of Heart Rending Reckoning was when I witnessed him showing another boy that valentine, under his desk.

On the other hand, the best part of Valentine's Day has always been my father's annual gift and card, with his love behind them. He has continued this tradition whether or not we're married or grown up. I love you, Dad.

The other best part of Valentine's Day is knowing I have Real Love to count on Every Single Day of the Year. I love you, husband.

So I include here a poem I wrote for my husband some years ago. I used the poem "I Love You" by French Surrealist Poet Paul Eluard as a template.

I Love You

I love you for all the moments you aren’t here
And I love you for the space between us in the room
For the scent of night-blooming jasmine and the smell of the heater
Igniting in the hall
For the rain soaking our flower beds and for your garden gloves
For the grass no one’s stepped on
I love you for love
I love you for all the moments you’re here
Who hears me if not you—I hear myself so little
Without you I hear nothing but echoes and empty notes
Between the lips of passersby
There is nothing in the atmosphere to hold
I have not been able to listen in the silence
I’ve had to learn to love sound by sound
How easily I forget
I love you for your gentleness, which is not mine
For endurance
I love you for perfection which isn’t true
For you over whom I exert no control
You think you are now but you are just forever
You are the light that opens my eyes
When I raise my head to see


Happy Valentine's Day

2 comments:

me said...

I'm impressed by her stamina. 37 cards is a lot, we only made it to 25.

Juice Mag said...

I am pretty neutral when it comes to v-day! I guess it's life after all :P everyday can be a v-day!