Now I get it!!!
I finally understand why Valentine’s Day has never felt like a romantic event for me, but rather a symbol of compassion, love, and family. Without even realizing it, my sentiment has its roots in the history of why we celebrate Valentine’s Day in the first place.
Historically, the celebration of Valentine’s Day began with St. Valentine, who was a Roman priest. He was tortured and imprisoned after being caught secretly performing marriage ceremonies for young soldiers. Apparently, soldiers were forbidden to marry because it was believed that single soldiers made better fighters as they had nothing to lose. The married soldiers, on the other hand, tended to be more cautious in the battle for fear of what would happen to their wives and children if they were to die. They had a sense of commitment, compassion, and concern for their family. The celebration of Valentine’s Day began with a belief in the importance of relationships and family.
When I reflect on Valentine’s Day, memories of childhood flood me. I remember going to the drugstore with my mother to select the box of colorful and cool valentine cards to share with friends. I would rush home and gently lay them out on the carpet for examination. I would select the right message for certain friends and then carefully choose the one that I would give to a special boy in the class. They would each be signed and candy taped to the envelopes. The cards would then be placed in a brown lunch bag and put into my backpack for delivery at school. You remember the drill. The excitement of the valentine party, the cookies, the sharing and receiving of fun cards from friends.
Then, upon arriving home from school, I would wait with great anticipation for a special dinner and my father to come home from work. I knew he would enter the house with a whistle announcing his arrival and his hands would be behind his back. As he made his way to the kitchen, he would gently place a red heart-shaped candy-filled box for each of us three girls and a big box for my mother on the counter. This would be followed by a special dinner and Valentine’s Day dessert.
It is not surprising to me when I am asked what I am doing for Valentine’s Day or what gifts my husband and I will share with each other, I am somewhat at a loss. It occurs to me that Valentine’s Day in my marriage has been about many of the same things as it was when I grew up—family. My husband will buy the girls flowers and candy today as he has every day since they were little girls and we will take time to reflect on each other. Ok, so maybe that is romantic. But not romantic in the typical flowers and candy way (although I do love the dark chocolate). Rather, romance is the truest spirit of what makes a person attractive and desirable. For me, the top three most romantic and loving things about a partner include:
- Strength. Yes, I do love the appearance and feel of solid muscles. But the biggest turn-on is a partner who has a strength about him because he is kind and gentle at his core. A person who on Valentine’s Day remembers his children, his friends, and the widowed woman at work with candy and treats to let them know that they are important.
- A partner who can cook or at least try. Let’s be honest whenever somebody throws a towel over their shoulder and begins to chop something in the kitchen–they turn into a hot, sexy human. In our house, my husband really doesn’t know how to cook, but he certainly can rock that towel on his shoulder.
- A great listener. Research has been very clear that there are certain regions of the brain that are rich in dopamine (the feel-good hormone) that light up when we feel connected and engaged with others. Listening, really listening is the truest form of respect. The most romantic and loving thing about a partner is often the ability to be fully present and engage in conversations. The partner who at the end of a long workday can listen to endless stories about your day. * Spoiler alert: If you pay attention and hang on our every word, we find you more attractive and desirable. It is a win-win.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, find a way to honor the memory of St. Valentine and his commitment and belief in the union of loving each other. Make it be a day to celebrate the power of connection and love with your family, your neighbor, and your friends, Chocolate candy, kind words, thoughtful gestures, and the expression of gratitude to those who have given you the gift of love are certainly worth celebrating!!
Wishing you a day of Love—-Happy Valentines Day!!