Friday, February 13, 2015

A Word About Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  My mom asked me yesterday if I had any special plans and I proceeded to tell her about my girls and their classroom parties.  And ALL the cards they have been working on. (Does anyone else have a dining room that looks like a craft bomb has gone off in it?)

After a while of driving in the van with my mom she tried again....."Do you and Shane have any plans for Valentine's day?" My response was like, "Oh, that's what you meant!  Um, no. We have no plans."
 And guess what?  I'm totally fine with that.  I got over Valentine's day about 8 years ago.  It just isn't a big deal to me.  

But, let me tell you, I've come a LONG way from where I was when Shane and I were first dating. 

 This morning I was reminiscing with my friend Sandy, at the bus stop.  She and I were roommates when Shane and I were dating.  She also knew Shane before I ever met him and as a friend appreciated some things about him that I was too blind to see. 

Shane and I celebrated our first Valentine's day as an "official couple" about 20 years ago. It went something like this:
I had dreamy expectations of what he would do for me.  I thought he would take me to some *special* restaurant.  Not that I had any idea of what restaurant that would just needed to be *special* and he needed to be the one to make it happen.  He would give me flowers.  Lots of them.  Not that I even knew what kind of flowers were my favorite.  Lastly, he would give me chocolates.  *Special* chocolates.  Probably chocolates that came in a ginormous box shaped like a heart. Do you see a pattern here?  He need to do all kinds of special things for me and they needed to be extravagant.   Meanwhile I just needed to get ready.  
And get ready I did.  I wore a little red dress, did my make up and put my hair up as beautifully as a I could.  (Or something close to that.)  Then, I waited for him to swoop me off my feet.  

Poor guy.

He came to pick me up with a gift of a giant Kit Kat.  He maybe gave me flowers.  He took me to a restaurant that we regularly went to on Saturdays if we were able to. 

I was disappointed.  He didn't do anything SPECIAL!  

After I came back from my date, some of the girls at the dorm that I lived in questioned me about where we went.  I told them the restaurant and one of the girls looked me over....all dressed up, and said, " I went there the other day *in my jeans*." 

Later, as I was lamenting the whole thing in our room to Sandy, she gave me a different perspective: She said, "Shane took you to your favorite restaurant.  He got you a giant size of your favorite candy bar."  And that was all it took for me to become a little less selfish about the matter. Oh, it's so much better to listen to an older and wiser friend than to a group of 18 year olds, and my own self for that matter.  (No offense, 18 year olds!  Love you!  You're just not as wise about these things yet.)

Fast forward a few years:

Shane and I were married with 4 children and living overseas.  We had some (once again) older and wiser friends that we loved to spend time with by the names of Jay and Teri Randall. The Randalls are such amazing people and their home was so welcoming that when Shane and I would go out on a date we would call them up, after we had had dinner together, and ask them if we could go to their house for a visit. 

So, once again it was Valentine's day and I also happened to have a special visitor in town.  My sister had come to see us! That was really cool of her!  Jay and Teri found out that she had come and asked us if we all wanted to go over to their house for dinner.  I was a little surprised, because it was Valentine's day. Shouldn't Jay and Teri be going out on a date or something?

Later, at their house, Teri filled me in.   Her husband Jay didn't like Valentine's day.  He didn't want someone else dictating when to do something special for his wife...when to give flowers, chocolate, jewelry, etc.  As wonderful as I thought Jay was at the time it still seemed like Teri was in a very sad predicament.  Poor Teri, I thought.  

Teri was fine though!  She decorated the dining area and made a beautiful dinner for all  of us.  We had a great evening together.  I appreciated (and was awed) that she didn't sulk that her (super awesome) husband didn't do something particular on this one day....because the fact is that he loved her well the whole entire year.  

You would have thought that I had latched on to that lesson right then and there, but truly, it wasn't for a few more years that I have came to the decision that if I want Valentine's day to be special then I need to think about what I can do for my husband or for my family.  (and that is a post for another time.....or just might not be appropriate.)

The truth is that I am so blessed to be loved well all year long.  Shane does so much for me, my children (and for countless others) every day.  He does stuff that I can do for myself (hello...have you seen all my FB posts about Shane and him making me coffee and/or breakfast?) He does things that I can't or won't do.  (He changes the oil in my van, changes the air filters in the house, fixes random things around the house, etc.) My point is that he does so much all year long...why on earth would I need to get all worked up about him NOT doing something *special* on one day of the year?  That would just be silly and possibly destructive. 

So, dearest Shane, Thanks for putting up with my 18 year old self, my 20 year old self, my 30 year old self...heck, thanks for just putting up with me.  You are wonderful. I appreciate all your efforts to take care of me (and the kids) and to do things that bring me joy. You give me a different perspective on so many things and you help me to be less black and white over issues that aren't that important.  You make me laugh every day and for that I am forever thankful. 

And now for your viewing pleasure:

Shane and me a few years ago.  Photo by: A Little Bit of Joy Photography

The picture on the top right is us when we were engaged... April 1994. Bottom right is when we were married about 6 months 1996. To the left is us about 10-15 years ago.

This photo was taken about 1 1/2 year ago by Sara Helen Photography.