On Valentine’s Day

happy valentine's day to me

This year I decided to buy myself roses for Valentine’s Day. Are they not stunning? I feel the hand of my grandmother at work. Whenever it came time for gift giving, she would make sure to include herself on the list. “From Alice, To Alice,” the card would read.

My husband is the love of my life. I am lucky to spend my days and nights with him. I am constantly thinking of reasons why he’s so amazing (I was thinking of including these reasons in my blog from time to time just to make sure I’m sufficiently expressing my gratitude to the universe—here’s one now: he does the dishes). But the fact that I can wax on and on about his fabulousness does not mean, however, that if handed a magic husband-altering wand, I wouldn’t make a couple of changes. I would, and one of them would be Valentine’s Day.

My husband sucks at Valentine’s Day. Or I should say, he doesn’t do Valentine’s Day. Which sucks.

I knew this going in. He told me at the very beginning. He hates the holiday; to him, it stands for everything he’s against: corporate materialism, nonsensical group think, and insincere emotion. OK, perhaps he has a point. But what is so wrong, I ask, with society reminding its members once a year to celebrate their loved ones? We wouldn’t need this reminder if we remembered every day how lucky we are to have them in our lives. But we don’t remember. We forget.

This will be the fifth Valentine’s Day I’ve spent with Bobby. Over the years, I’ve tried everything I could think of to get him to budge from his anti-Valentine’s stance—emotional pleas, logic, guilt—one year I stayed up until 3:00 a.m. writing him a really long letter on the subject. All to no avail. So here it is, 2010, and I’m throwing in the towel.

He’s dug in, and although he says I’m stubborn, he is more so. I might as well accept that this reality is not changing. Yes, I would like a little romance in my life from time to time—if not on Valentine’s Day, then another day—but the truth is that romance is not really as essential as I might lead myself to believe. Bobby knows who I am and understands what I’m about (most of the time), and he loves me for those things, not in spite of those things. That is what really matters. I of all people should have learned that lesson.

And so it is that I bought myself these beautiful roses, which are in fact more to my liking than any bouquet Bobby could pick out for me anyway. (He’s always making fun of my interest in “2,000 shades of yellow,” so there is no way he would have stared at the glorious display at Central Market and picked out seven roses—an odd number!—in varying but complementary shades of yellow, pink, orange, and ivory. That is just not in the realm of possible.) You could, and people do, make the argument that in a situation like this, it’s the thought that counts. But the truth is that for me, when it comes to flowers, it’s not the thought that counts—it’s the flowers!

I told Bobby several weeks ago that I would plan our Valentine’s Day activities. A night out was always out of the question, since we found out months ago that he would be laid off the day after Valentine’s Day. (Cheery, huh?) So for our night in I’m recreating an old tradition we used to have that we abandoned at some point (probably when we had our third child, which is about when we abandoned everything other than brushing our teeth). Every Thursday night we used to make a simple meal of boiled shrimp and rice. We would sit across the dining room table from each other, peeling our shrimp, sharing a bottle of wine, and talking for hours. We called it our date night since we had a tiny baby and little money, so cheap seafood and one of my dad’s homemade bottles of wine was a close as we got to a night out.

For Valentine’s Day this year we’ll be bringing back date night. Today at the grocery store I bought a pound and a quarter of wild-caught shrimp, a bottle of Beaujolais, and a crusty loaf of French bread. We’ll shove some chicken nuggets at the kids and put them to bed early if we can swing it. Then our night begins. I can’t wait!

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