Seeing all of the Valentine stuff in the grocery store left me in a grumpy mood. The heart-shaped Peeps. The sprays of balloons. The cheesy greeting cards. The expensive flowers. I was sinking in a pit of pink quicksand.
Too much Cupid on sale.
So, I responded the way writers respond to such things. I went home and wrote a blog trashing all of it. How we commercialize something important and reduce love to heart-shaped boxes of beef jerky, like the one pictured above.
I felt better. For a moment.
I decided to share the rough draft of my blog with a very wise friend who pointed out that I was being really harsh and missing something really important. I’d gotten so caught up in the trappings of the day that I’d missed the message.
And the moments it creates for all of us to enjoy.
For instance, the excitement on the faces of people buying a gift that they think a special person in their life will really appreciate.
Or the way Valentine’s Day can push a person past their awkward feelings and find the courage to tell someone that they like them.
Or how what seems ridiculous to me — jerky as a Valentine gift — can be the most perfect gift for someone else. (Hopefully someone with good cholesterol levels.)
My friend also described how her parents married in February because it’s a romantic month. How her dad bought a box of candy for her mom every Valentine’s Day, and one for each of the kids as well.
OK. That’s really sweet.
It made me realize I’d turned into a Grinch. I’d become so caught up in the gaudy wrapping paper that I’d forgotten about what’s inside. What’s at the heart of the day.
And what’s that?
Maybe, it’s remembering we’re at our best when we’re together. At the heart of us, we’re about relationship. About me-and-you. About forming an us.
The giver of life made us that way.
Relationships bring us some of our greatest satisfaction. And some of our greatest frustration. There’s no candy-coating it: Relationships of every type are challenging.
They always involve people who are alike in many important ways, different in many others. Separate people trying to pull closer together while still holding onto individual identities.
Trying to love as best they can at the moment.
It’s a tricky dance. The real trick is to find someone who wants to dance with us. Who hears our music and is willing to sacrifice a lot just to hold us close and sway to our tune. And who invites us to sway to theirs, too.
Relationship is about the dance.
Just as no two dances are the same, no two relationships are, either. Some work out better than others. Some go on for a long time. Others come to an end and create an opening for a new one to begin.
And on any given Valentine’s Day, we’re all in different places with the different relationships in our lives, which makes talking about it a little tricky.
I’m guessing we’ve all had times when we looked forward to Feb. 14, and times when we couldn’t wait until the following day when all of the heart-shaped stuff has been moved to the clearance tables.
So is there something that all of us can take from this day, no matter where we are? Well, maybe. You decide.
Those who know a lot more than I do about relationships say that any truly loving one begins with first recognizing our own deep value and our exquisite worth. In a sense, we have to first give ourselves a Valentine.
Perhaps that’s a good thought for the day.
No matter where you are at this moment — in a good relationship, wishing you had one, leaving a bad one — celebrate yourself in some way. Give yourself a Valentine. (Just don’t eat all of the caramel-filled candy or beef jerky at once.)
And remember that somebody else is celebrating you right now, too. And not just today. Always.
The One who gave us the heart for relationships. The One who never tires of Valentines.