Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is it in the cards?


        The one inch wide opening in the lid of the shoebox waited to swallow the validation I needed. The foil covered box with the randomly applied homemade hearts and adorned with ric-rac was what my young soul needed to help me know I was someone’s Valentine. The annual gesture of love and appreciation bestowed upon me from my peers finally arrived to where I would get the small folded tokens I desired to feel acknowledged, adored, perhaps even loved. Although the ubiquitous cards were as abundant as ticker tape in a hero’s parade, I cherished them as if “Be Mine” were a personal message from each young lady I had a crush on. Her personally scrawled, yet awkwardly scribed signature in the “from” line was intended for me to know it was from her, to me. Due to my initials: A. A. (Anthony Anders), I often sat in the first chair, first row, and got the first Valentines. I liked to feel, me getting the first cards was intentional. I see now getting them first was coincidental, getting any at all obligatory to each and every classmate. I still felt special. It was my choice.

        Later--- years after the tradition of placing the bi-folded gestures in a home-made box waned, I noticed a new tradition of exchanging flowers surfaced as a new way of dividing one another of those who had the adoration of another or others (plural) and those who apparently did not. Like feathers in the warriors head dress, the conquests visible for all to see, we were given the opportunity in our school as a fundraiser, the ability to buy flowers for our targets of affection. There were always the individuals who had bouquets so bountiful, they had to make trips to their locker to drop off the new acquisitions, to make room for more; and there would be more. I also remember the faces as they would light up with hope as the delivery person would appear with a bundle, and ceremoniously call out the names one at a time to pass out the tokens of love and adoration. I too remember the eyes of many cast downward in sadness as they were passed by. The problem being not only being passed by, but to get passed by again and again, in front of their peers, and then to leave school that day with no flowers in hand, both male or female. It must have been a long trip home feeling forgotten, unloved, and that the whole student body knew it. I can verify at times it was hard.

        As life progressed and the ability to take a date to a place nicer than one that has a clown for a mascot or super-sizing being part of the menu; I noticed the Valentine holiday became pressing as the awareness of being in a relationship, love, or even being “in-like” with someone was brought to the foreground of one’s priorities as the holiday approached. The “love holiday” often nudged us to realize we are to be coupled, to be searching for, or celebrating the love we currently have, or to get on the ball. Who wants to be eating take out Chinese on a TV tray watching movies on Pay-per-view, when the whole world is out on the town, in a romantic embrace, often paying twice as much for bad service in a dimly lit bistro? I remember feeling, “What is wrong with me?” “Damn you Hallmark”, I would curse to the heavens. I recommend Hunan Lion off Bethel Rd.

        My bitterness has long since faded as I refuse to substantiate how I am loved, by how many, or to what degree by the receipt of a card, flower, or chocolates (although I still love all the above.) I also find it hard to feel that 1/365th of my year is the benchmark to the relationships in my life as well as if I am worthy of love especially in respect to whether or not I get a physical token.

        I have been with my wife going on twenty years total, and we still exchange our tokens. (She likes Anthony Thomas chocolate covered strawberries.) I know enough about women and wives to know not to fumble there. If I do the story better include terrorists. I enjoy holidays as much as the next guy, but I have matured to realize that the gesture on one day does not make or break my love for others and the worthiness of receiving it. I also realize that even if one thinks that it is a “Hallmark” or consumerism holiday, it is often only a couple dollars and a few minutes investment to make a difference to those who cherish the gestures we bestow upon them consumerist or not. Most importantly I have found that the best Valentine was not created by Saint Valentine, but by Alexander Graham Bell. You can call your mother or father. You can call your kids. Call your spouse. Call your friends. If this is too personal, perhaps an electronic nod in the direction of those you appreciate or love is always nice to receive. Make Facebook worth your time for once. Take a lead from kids who make the best valentines, and I treasure every one I receive from mine (see above). The loving intention behind making the connection is a valentine in itself. One we can also do the other 364 days of the year.

and now some food for thought...

        Love does not have to be reciprocated to be validated. Someone does not have to be aware of our love to make it real to us. Sometimes we have to love at a distance. What we send out, we get back. Remember this, don’t forget to love yourself. Show in your own best way to express your love for those who matter in your life. Profess your gratitude to your friends for their presence in your life. And finally spend more time expressing your love than you do picking out your valentines.

I love you all! Happy Valentine’s Day 24/7/365...


Ardith Haws said...

What a fun reminder of the charms of youth, and the importance of those silly little cards. Loved it. And thank you for the lovely last paragraph. Perfect.

little bird. said...

I rather enjoyed this :)

TirzahLaughs said...

I always had very few of those little paper valentines as a kid. I wasn't popular or well-liked. But from an early age, I didn't much care for cards. The ones you got were generic or alike. And no one meant anything by it.

I much preferred an personal kindness to a generic card.

And you are right one day doesn't change the world.

Love means making someone happy just because you can.


Healing Morning said...

My favorite part of your post was the following thought: " I know enough about women and wives to know not to fumble there. If I do the story better include terrorists." I love your sense of humor!

I am not a big proponent of Valentine's Day for many reasons. I do NOT like rhyming cards, am not a hearts person and I think that buying red roses takes very little imagination. I know in the language of flowers, red roses mean "I love you", but seriously...if you're going to embrace the concept of Valentine's Day, take a moment to be original and go the not-red roses route, just once!

As a single person, I look at this holiday as another reason to count my blessings - and they are many. One of them is finding you in the great world of blogging and recognizing the delight of a kindred spirit. Namaste' to you, my friend & thanks, as always, for the gift of laughter!

~ Dawn

Katherine Jenkins said...

Tony, I loved how you chronicled the evolution of Valentine's Day and love in your life. A little love (or sunshine) is waiting for you over on my blog. Happy Valentine's Day, Kathy

threio said...

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Shannon O'Donnell said...

Hi, Tony! I'm so glad you found my blog. Yours looks wonderful and I'm happy to be among your followers. Thank you for your kind words. :-)

Dazediva said...

Really like your post :) It took me down memory lane and saw me receiving roses on Valentines whilst in school .. all of us (girls & boys) would give them out to friends so that no one felt left out .. we were a good bunch that way :)

As V-Day became more grown up - we all saw the divide happen ... I'm an events organizer; and I used to throw big V-day parties for singles & couples alike ..

If you love and care for someone (friend or lover) - you don't need just ONE day to remind them of that .. there are 365 days to do it .. so make use of them .. :)

Lovely post :)

Timberwolf123 said...

Amen Tony! We always get back what we put out & love is no different. We need to love ourselves to have love to give to others!! I hope you enjoyed the day & I hope everyone loves just a little bit more each day!! Love is the answer!



schmitz.88 said...

I use to love Valentine’s Day in elementary school. I can remember getting all excited about making a box and getting cards in my box that I made. I worked during Valentine’s Day this year both days. I work at Max and Erma’s we were very busy both Saturday and Sunday night. Due to the holiday all of the couples were out showing their love. A lot of parties of two came in those two days. I feel like we need to show the love we show on Valentine’s Day all year round not just that one day.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

This post is a meaningful and sweet reminder of what's important. I'm glad to have discovered your blog through the coffee shop and am a new follower. The first paragraph reminds me of elementary school days, when I hoped for the best Valentine's message from Danny, er, the boy I had a crush on.(See my piece on the Dreaded Day, if you like.)

If I had a Blog... said...

Well Done! A very eloquent account, and so true.

Thank you for the story

marcime said...

Tony - your stories are great - so real, so honest - I have left you something on my blog - enjoy.