February 14: Day of Love

Today is Valentine’s Day another Rampant Commercialism Day. A big deal. Just turn on your TV or go to your local retail store.


Let me catch my breath before I tell you that I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day the way you see portrayed on TV. Never ever, which has to be a personality trait conditioned by my parents during my childhood. Neither my father nor my mother brought home candy or flowers or left my brothers and me in the attendance of a babysitter so they could wine and dine at a restaurant. They showed their love and affection other ways, but they never celebrated the day as though it were special.

In fact, I never knew Valentine’s Day existed until I went to school and was forced to exchange Valentine cards with girls. Back then, you didn’t buy cards for your classmates; you made them in art class. Boys gave cutout hearts to girls, girls gave the same to boys, and the procedure was done staidly between classes, usually before final bell. During my early years at school, there was no mention of romance. In fact, I never knew why we celebrated Valentine’s Day other than to cut out paper hearts and exchange them for other paper hearts.

By high school, almost everyone stopped exchanging Valentine cards. No one gave them out unless they were in love with that person. And even then, the act was akin to proposing marriage, so few of us boys ever gave cards to girls unless we were committed to a steady relationship. I wasn’t, so I never gave out cards, even when I dated and got married. Valentine’s Day was elementary school, a thing of the past.

When Valentine’s Day came during my first year of marriage, a friend reminded me on our way home from work that I was going home empty-handed. He warned me that I should at least stop at the florist and buy my wife a single rose so she wouldn’t be angry at me. So I bought a red rose and was surprised by how expensive it cost. Well, money is no object for the ones we love. Right?

When I gave her the rose, she said, “I didn’t get you anything. I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s all rampant commercialism.”

I knew then that our relationship would be a lasting one. To this day, after thirty-three years of marriage, my wife and I do not celebrate Valentine’s Day. Not in the traditional sense portrayed on TV. We used to bowl and take along our children and turn it into a family affair. Now, with our children grown up and my wife and I on the brink of geezerhood with our stiff backs and sore joints, we sit in our easy chairs and poke fun at the Valentine commercials on TV, still in love with each other.