How my Valentine’s Day has changed over 40 years
Updated: March 10, 2012 8:10AM
On Feb. 14 we celebrate Valentine’s Day, often viewed as a changing of the guard from dead of winter to the remote scent of spring. So far this year, it hardly feels that we deserve to celebrate that seasonal shift, since most of winter has already felt like early spring.
But in honor of one of my favorite holidays, red and pink being my preferred colors, let’s pay homage to Valentine’s Day as not only a day to celebrate love but also to mark the beginning of winter’s end, no matter what Punxatawny Phil declared.
Over the past 40 years the Boss and I have been together, our Valentine’s Days have morphed and changed immeasurably, based on the stage of life we found ourselves in, and I know that’s probably true for many of you. I’ll never forget entering the lobby of my college dorm on Valentine’s Day and hearing the resident working the reception desk call out to me that I had just received a flower delivery, which turned out to be a dozen red roses. Ah yes, he definitely began our journey together on the right path! Those early years were full of red roses and champagne suppers, candlelight and romance. Then along came the kids, three of them in just under 3 ½ years, and at first we still managed to tuck everybody into bed on the evening of Feb. 14, light the candles and have a quiet dinner together.
Eventually, however, adolescence hit the household and soon we were more consumed with the romantic comings and goings of our offspring than of ourselves. Often, Libertyville High’s Turn About dance was around Valentine’s Day, and the Boss and I spent a few of those nights managing purses and coats working the coat check in the cafeteria. My valentine, instead of carrying a bouquet of roses for me, schlepping armfuls of sparkly handbags and high-heeled shoes in the coat check room, looking a bit bashful but smiling and enjoying the pomp and spectacle that is a high school dance.
Then, in what seems like the blink of an eye, we were back to the two of us. But by then, we had fallen into the pattern that long-married partners often do, making more casual plans for what to serve at Valentine’s dinner. Asking if we were exchanging gifts and deciding that ‘household thing’ we had to purchase the previous week would serve as our shared gift, as opposed to those earlier days when special gifts were a given. Purple mums replaced the red roses and dinner was sometimes eaten quickly so as not to miss a favorite TV program.
I suppose some might say that the romantic spark was worn down from so many Valentine’s days together, a familiarity that replaces the strong chemistry of the early days. Perhaps that’s party true, and inevitable. But I still look forward to spending Feb. 14 with my favorite valentine of all time, and I’ll happily take those purple mums again.
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