I loathe Valentine’s Day. It’s a manufactured holiday that exists almost entirely because of Hallmark and Russell Stover. Also the conglomerate that is the cut flower industry. I haven’t celebrated it in years, and the last time I did so with a significant other, it was by accident.
(We wanted to go see DeVotchKa. They were playing in Boulder on Valentine’s Day. So to our horror, we ended up going on a date on Valentine’s Day. Definitely not our style.)
As a kid, though, I always woke up on Valentine’s Day to a sweet surprise from my mom. Having slaved laboriously the previous night over cards and sweets for my classmates so that everyone –everyone!- got a Valentine from me, I struggled mightily to the breakfast table, my knapsack brimming with items that bore “to:” and “from:” lines carefully completed in my childish scrawl. And there alongside my Cheerios would be a card. And a small box of chocolates.
Now, at 32 years of age I cherish the memory of all of those Valentines and the woman who made the day special for me. Mom would watch my sister and I exclaiming over our Valentines and then enter the room wearing her huge, totally winning smile. She often had a steaming mug of coffee in her hand, which she somehow managed to set down just in time for Emily and I to tackle her with hugs and kisses.
This year Valentine’s Day fell on a Friday. I worked at both of my jobs and after leaving the co-op I biked to my mom’s side of town, where I bought some roses, a card, and a couple of bars of chocolate. I wrote a quick message in the card and cycled to my mom’s house. She wasn’t home, but she would be in a few minutes. I waited at the front door like some oddly-dressed suitor: jeans, sweater, down parka, gloves/hat/turtle fur neckwarmer. Cycling in Northern Colorado in February is often chilly.
Mom was thrilled with, especially, the flowers. Mom LOVES getting flowers and bringing her flowers has long been one of my favorite things to do. It’s so simple and her reaction is always staggering. I was only at the house for maybe twenty minutes or so and she admired them to the point where underneath my windburned cheeks I was blushing. And grinning.
Valentine’s Day reminds me, every year, of the people who love me most and best, the ones who have stuck with me my whole life, the amazing and incredible family that I have. And my enormous gratitude for them.