Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Valentine's Sunday (Post-Cana Post)

When I was single,  Valentine's Day was miserably lonely for me.  The pressure to jump into a relationship (or hold onto one) was enormous, but I never seemed to get my timing quite right.  I never got the bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolate that I thought everyone else was getting.  The most memorable Valentine's Day gift that I received was a giant red amaryllis flower in a pot of very unromantic dirt.  The fellow I was dating at that time apparently did not know me well enough to realize that I had the blackest of black thumbs, and a potted plant would probably die faster than cut flowers in a vase.

It was disconcerting, to say the least, to learn that my husband Manny frowned upon Valentine's Day as a secularized, Hallmark holiday (even though he has no objection to Santa -- a secularized symbol if I ever saw one!).  "Why should I be demanded to prove my love on one day of the year more than any other?" he grumped.  We celebrated Valentine's Day a deux for the first few years of our marriage.  But then the volume of  school Valentine's Day celebrations began to crush me.  First one kid, and then another, and then another, became obligated to write sixteen or more Valentine's Day cards for all their classmates.  That meant I had to look up sixteen or more classmate's names (per kid) and either supervise the kids' writing them, or write them myself for the kids too young to do it for themselves.  Handling 50 or more Valentines every year for my six kids soon sucked the joy out of the holiday.

Then came the question -- do we give the kids gifts for Valentine's Day?  Should they give us gifts?  Should they give each other gifts?  We finally sought the advice of our friend Connie, who has ten kids.  Connie and her husband turned Valentine's Day into a holiday for the kids more than for the parents.  My husband and I excitedly jumped on board.  So every year for the past couple of years, we have taken the kids ice skating on the weekend before or after Valentine's Day.

This year, on the Sunday after Valentine's Day, we drove into New York City to ice-skate for free at the rink in Bryant Park.  Since it was Sunday, we didn't even have to pay for parking.  And we didn't have to worry about Valentine's Day being too celebratory for Lent -- we saved our celebration for Sunday, when the obligation to do penance doesn't apply.  Like every other year we've celebrated Valentine's Day as a family holiday, we had a blast.  And when my husband toddled our two-year-old around the rink and then held my ice-skate-clad foot in his lap to undo my laces, it was as romantic as a girl could wish for.