My parents are the best. On the whole, they did a pretty damn good job raising me. For the most part, my idiosyncracies, foibles, failings and neuroses are mine and mine alone. In fact, the only glaring mistake that I can readily identify without digging too deep occurred when I was about eight years old. My mom had a dental procedure knowns as a gum graft and she spared none of the details when telling my young, impressionable self about the experience. Periodontal technique and practice evolved considerably in the years between, but I didn’t know that when, at age 26 my dentist told me that I had to have a gum graft. He saw my white-knuckled grip on the chair and then spent the next year talking me down before I agreed to go through with the procedure.
This is not about my long and storied history in dental offices though. This is about how my parents raised me in such a way that I have never and will never hate Valentine’s Day.
That was the thought in my head this morning when I woke up and it’s the same thought I have had for the last several years on this day. Valentine’s Day was always about waking up to pink milk in the fridge (green a month later, on St. Patrick’s Day), and candy and cards on the kitchen table. Mom made heart-shaped cakes for dessert, sometimes heart-shaped hamburgers for dinner and it was always really just a lovely day.
Even after I had left home and gone to college, I got packages on this and most other holidays. One year my mom shipped heart cakes with my closest friends’ names on them. That was a good year – one that cemented her place as a fan favorite among my pals. I picked up the tradition somewhere along the way and have made cakes off and on for the last few years. In my head, the ones I made last night were going to turn out like this.
In reality, they look like this.
Yes, Valentine’s Day reeks of commercialism and carries the weight of expectations so heavy they can crush wide-eyed young (and even not-so-young) love in an instant. I have certainly had one or two less than stellar Valentine’s Days (as well as some perfectly nice, romantical ones), but – for maybe once in my life – I won’t judge you if celebrating that way is what makes your heart part all melty. I’ve listened to the jewelry store ads on the radio the last couple of weeks and though I wouldn’t want someone to ask me to hang out with him forever on Valentine’s Day, if that’s how someone else chooses to lock it down – well, that’s pretty awesome.
I partook of my once every few years viewing of my most beloved movie ever in the history of ever ever last weekend and have had one of my favorite lines on a loop in my head since. It seems appropriate today.
“Love? Romantic love, platonic love, filial love—? Quite different things, surely?”
Quite different, yes. But all so good and necessary. And worth it.