Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering Valentine's Day

Now I know that I said that I was going to post about people who don't know how to spend money, but I think that I might put that off yet again. Maybe I'll post that instead of doing Freaky Friday tomorrow, or maybe it can just wait until next week. Anyway, I have this idea that I should post something else, since it's Valentine's Day.

I used to really like Valentine's Day when I was a kid. When you're in grade school you buy these silly cartoon Valentines and give them to other kids. Not that you just go up and give them stuff. Everyone had a decorated box, and you put the Valentines in the boxes. We had a contest to see who could make the prettiest box. I never actually got first place in that, which I didn't think was fair. It was obvious that either the other kid's parents had done most of the work, or else it was mostly a store bought thing to begin with. My box was my own work, except for when my dad had to glue something for me, since the project often required some toxic chemical that I wasn't allowed to use by myself.

So that was fun, and it lasted three or four years. I don't remember the school after that making a big deal of the day. By sixth grade, I hardly did anything fun with the holiday at all. Funny that the day meant less as I got closer to the age that it was supposed to mean something. In seventh grade I had a boyfriend, but I don't remember him getting me anything special that year. After breaking up for about a year and a half, we were together again, and it seems like that year we tried to make a big deal of it. But he didn't have any money and I think I was grounded for something anyway.

There were a few years when the holiday just seemed to remind me that I didn't have anybody. When I was seventeen I had someone, but he didn't have any money. I think maybe he made me some fudge or something.

When I was nineteen, finally, this was the year that I expected to get a pretty red box of candy and so forth. My fiance presented me with a stuffed animal, which he assumed that I would like better than candy. And normally, he would have been right, but I'd had just been wanting one of these silly heart shaped boxes for so long I was a bit disappointed. He saw that, and later he went and got me chocolate too.

The next year, the fiance was still around, though the actual engagement had been put on hold. He supposedly didn't have time for me, so I didn't think that I should sit around and wait for him. I didn't want to be engaged anyway. I wanted to get married. Being engaged is just this stressful period of time when you are waiting to get married. I was in college, and I was supposed to be having fun and dating, not waiting around for this guy who I might or might not get married to later. So I went back to dating, and it seems like there were about four guys in the picture, and they all seemed to disappear for a week or two right around the middle of February.

When I was twenty-one I finally broke it off with the college fiance, and found myself back with the guy I was with when I was seventeen. I'm sure that there were the traditional gifts and and nice dinner and such, but I don't remember that stuff. What I remember was that I had gone through a bit of a crisis in December, and he was really there for me. But after the crisis was over, we were talking about getting married, and I realized that I couldn't marry him. I was very much in love, but he wasn't a Christian. Since I knew that I wasn't going to marry him, and the purpose of dating was to figure out who I would marry, I really shouldn't date him anymore. Having come to this conclusion, I thought that I would leave it to him how we should deal the break-up. Should we just immediately stop all contact? Should we try to stay friends? Should we just gradually see less and less of each other? Should we still date sometimes but also see other people? He didn't get it, and he had to hear again. We weren't going to get married, so we were eventually going to break up, so we should do it sooner than later so we didn't get hurt any more than absolutely necessary. He could choose how to handle that, but if he didn't choose then I would. At that point he lied to me and told me that he was a Christian but that he just didn't feel comfortable in church. And then he lied to me about some other really important things.

And then we were engaged. Not anything official, since we hadn't picked out rings or set a date or anything. But we would be getting married sometime, whenever we had the money. And I was in college and there didn't seem to be any rush, but I did expect to be married in a year or two.

So I don't think that we really ever made a big deal of the holiday. Until these past two years, I was very much in love and always happy to see him. Even with the financial problems and figuring out that he'd lied to get me to marry him, I was still very happy. I was a happily married woman and didn't need a special day for it.

So Valentine's Day itself was no big deal. The following week was somewhat special due to buying a lot of clearance sale chocolate. But except for that it was really just life as usual.

The thing that I really associate with February and Valentine's Day is buying stuff for my dad. His birthday was less than a week away from the holiday, so he was often presented with heart-shaped Mylar balloons that were on sale, or heart-shaped cake, or red tins of popcorn. If I took him to lunch or dinner, there were hearts and flowers decorating the restaurant. Stuff like that.

Dad would have been 66 this year. I miss him. I know that he was in pain and probably ready to go, and I know that he is in a better place now. I have totally gotten used to the fact that he isn't here, but there are times when it is especially irritating. I can't tell him about some movie I've seen or some thing that happened at school. I can't ask him if he likes the new Terminator series. I can't ask him what he thinks is wrong with the car. I can't ask him to tell me again about the giant checker-playing computer that one of his rivals entered into a high-school science fair.

Happy Valentines Day. And Happy Birthday Dad.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

The last paragraph really hit home for me, and it probably will for others.