Editor’s note – this is a “from the vault” release that never stops being relevant for you, your loved ones, or Valentine’s Day…enjoy!
Here we are again. Valentine’s Day has come back around and if you’re like me, the status of your love life is directly proportional to how you feel about the holiday. Lucky for me, I’m now happily married to a great guy. This year I have some conversation hearts in a jar on my desk, a pink and red wreath on my office door, and heart wallpaper on my cell phone. Heck, I will probably even wear red on the actual day. Love is grand! But this hasn’t always been the case. If I were stuck back where I was eight years ago, single and somewhat bitter about love (when I spent Valentine’s Day with a guy friend eating wings at Hooters), I’d probably be tempted to pelt a few snowballs at any happy couple that wandered into striking distance. I will sheepishly admit that in my “loveless” years I may have crudely referred to the holiday as VD.
I’ve heard many times that Valentine’s Day is just a made up holiday to line the pockets of candy and card makers. I can understand why people would say that but I also think they’re missing the point. Is there anything really wrong with taking one day to focus on telling our loved ones how we feel about them?
The key is not to get carried away with overspending and to focus on the point of the holiday, which is to show someone that you love and appreciate him/her. Choose carefully how you share the love. According to my friend Carla, her husband had better not even consider getting her that footed pajama thing she keeps seeing ads for. Apparently, she is not buying the claims that “it feels like a hug”. Even if you can’t afford a giant stuffed bear, Godiva chocolates, jewelry, and two dozen roses for your sweetie, there are still ways to show that you care without going into debt.
This snowfall in 2011 has really wreaked some havoc on my daily schedule, but in keeping with my Ranch Hand Guide for 2011, I’m just going with the flow. I took advantage of a snow day last week by cleaning and reorganizing my craft closet. This of course, affected other closets in my home, but I found some words that made me smile.
By “cleaning” I mean I dumped items out onto the floor and separated them into one of three piles: estate sale, burn pile, and trash. If I could justify keeping it, I put it in a container and moved on. Eventually, I made my way upstairs and started going through my folder from all of my years of teaching. I took a little time to reorganize my work history, and then I opened a file folder that I had named “Love Letters.”
I remember making that folder.
This folder holds my motivation for going to work every day. I am a teacher. We are up against scrutiny from every direction, but every once in a while we make a difference. Even less often, someone thanks us for it. Even less often than that, someone actually writes a note expressing his or her gratitude. Those notes from parents and students written to me expressing some kind of thanks for something I did for them are in that folder.
I read every one.
The topics of the notes had nothing to do with the subject I taught at the time. Parents wrote about getting their kids through “a difficult” year; students wrote about getting them through “a difficult” year. Neither group mentioned a noun, verb, or essay.
With Valentine’s day just around the corner, more than a few of you might be getting a little anxious. There is often big pressure to do something special for the day and a lot of the old ideas seem outmoded or just plain over done. Here are some new ideas with the old traditions:
Flowers Pro: They’re beautiful. Cons: They can be expensive, they don’t last long enough and some people are actually allergic! Solution: Origami flowers are beautiful, as affordable or expensive as you want them to be, and last as long as you want them to. Make your own, or if you’re less crafty buy a bouquet online.
Candy Pro: Everyone loves a treat! Cons: It can be seen as impersonal and sometimes too commercialized. Go to any store around and you’ll see hundreds of the same candy boxes over and over. Solution: Bake a treat of your own, cupcakes perhaps. If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen you can pick up some cupcakes locally, with so many flavors available you’ll be sure to find something special.
Stuffed animals Pro: They’re cute. Cons: They take up room, collect dust, and are generally useless. Also, they have the same problem as candy, they’re mass produced. Solution: If they’re an animal fan take them on a date to the Oklahoma City zoo, there is free admission on Mondays in February. If a zoo trip is not optimal donate to a charity in their name.
Date night Pro: Quality time is a great way to celebrate your love. Cons: Sometimes you just get stuck in a rut. Solution: Try something new like date night at The Plaza district. Events on February 11th (Friday night) include everything from free Salsa lessons (starting at 9pm followed by a Salsa Social) to art shows to live music to open mic night to an 80’s themed prom complete with karaoke, something for everyone – really!
Bottom line, think outside of the box to make this holiday one to remember. Your special sweetheart will thank you for the effort and you’ll feel like a superstar for doing something extra special for them.
There is a small magnetic whiteboard on my refrigerator. The white plastic apparatus, clinging by electromagnetic magic to the fingerprint smudged stainless steel veneer, catches my eye every time I turn on my lights in the morning. The whiteboard has become a beacon, a challenge, and a reminder of things to think about I didn’t know I should consider.
Why? Because my future son-in-law puts quotes on the board and leaves them there. Sometimes I see him writing them. Other times I’m surprised with a new message. But they’re always powerful; they’re full of the angst and strength of young lovers and budding poets and young men and women discovering the world. They remind me of the troubadours of the High Middle Ages. And, they remind me that humans are passionate…that I should take care with the souls of those whom fate has placed in my family on Earth.