Today is, of course, Valentine's Day'
For some, it's a wonderful day, marked by a Hallmark card, a nice dinner, and a gift of some sort -- chocolate, a stuffed bear holding a red heart that says "I Love You", or maybe even a piece of jewelry.
For others, Valentine's Day has not been so wonderful. In fact, it's a day they've been dreading and trying to ignore from the moment the stores replaced their Christmas decorations with red and pink hearts and streamers.
As I reflected this morning on the February 14ths of my life, I realized that Cupid had done his thing for about 1/2 of them. Several years, I had a relatively steady boyfriend when mid-February rolled around, 1 year I was engaged, and for 25 of those years I was married.
Of course, I can't help but think today about those 25 Valentine's Days spent with my husband -- and most years, also with my children. The earliest years, when my non-romantic husband was forced to work with a very tight budget; the years of little ones and hand-made cards he helped them make; the later years, when some of my "romance" training had begun to bear fruit and the budget had a bit more wiggle room.
And then, there was our last Valentine's Day. When I think of February of 2009, I don't think of Valentine's Day at first. Instead, my mind goes back to the Saturday before the big day. My husband and I had driven to the city to spend the day with our college-freshman daughter.
We wandered in and out of some cute little shops, browsing and enjoying each other's company. In one of them I saw a gorgeous silver bracelet with several strands of different sizes and styles of silver beads and a few dangly silver hearts. My husband and daughter were elsewhere in the shop at the time, so neither saw me hold it around my wrist and discover that it was a perfect fit.
I wanted that bracelet, but I didn't want to flat-out tell my husband I wanted it. I wanted him to see it, think of me, and buy it on his own.
That wasn't likely, though. I knew that my husband wouldn't look at the jewelry and therefore wouldn't even see the bracelet, much less think of buying it. I was going to have to hint.
Just after I replaced the bracelet on the black velvet t-display, my husband joined me and asked me if I'd found anything interesting. Ahhhh . . . the perfect opportunity had presented itself.
I pointed at the bracelet and casually commented, "Just this bracelet. Isn't it pretty?" He glanced at it and responded that he guessed it was. Just then, our daughter came up and said she wanted to show him something, and off they went. Drat!
I stayed in the vicinity of the bracelet, knowing he'd return to the area, which would give me the opportunity to drop another hint. A few minutes later, he did just that. I picked up the bracelet, draped it over my wrist, and said, "I really like this. And it actually fits!" (I have tiny wrists, so most bracelets are so large they fall off if my arms are at my side or slide almost up to my elbows if my hands are up -- neither look is a good one).
Over my husband's shoulder, I saw the saleslady; she had been watching my efforts at subtlety, and she smiled at me with a bit of pity when my husband responded, "Yeah, it does. That's nice", and walked off again.
Not deterred, I remained in the general vicinity of the bracelet; because the display was near the front door, I figured I'd get one more opportunity to get my point across as we prepared to leave and go on to the next shop.
Just then, my daughter and husband approached and indicated they were ready to go to the next store. It was time to be a bit more obvious, I decided. I reached out and touched the bracelet one last time. "I really like this. And it would make a lovely gift," I said, smiling at my husband.
The saleslady covered her laughter with a snort and my shoulders dropped when he replied, in all seriousness, "For who?"
My daughter just looked at her dad, open-mouthed and wide-eyed. I gave up. As we walked out of the shop, my daughter leaned back and mouthed at me behind her father's back, "Wow!"
That memory never fails to make me laugh. It is a classic example of my husband.
It is also a classic example of my daughter that, while I visited the restaurant restroom to wash my hands before lunch, she explained to my husband what all the bracelet-comments were about and that sometime that day, without me noticing, she went back to that little shop for her dad and bought the bracelet.
I acted surprised when I opened it on Valentine's Day. And when my husband casually said, "I knew all along. I just acted like I didn't know, so you'd be surprised," I acted like I believed him.
I wear that bracelet other days, of course, but I always wear it on Valentine's Day. In fact, if you were sitting here right now, you might be a bit surprised at my outfit -- thick wool purple socks, Uggs slippers, and thick fleece bright blue with purple polka dot pajamas, accented by, of all things, a gorgeous silver bracelet with beads of various sizes and shapes and dangly silver hearts.
Happy Valentine's Day!