I somehow find it obligatory to comment on Valentine’s Day. This holiday has mixed feelings for me. Once upon a time the Saint’s days were for a gathering of the community to worship and acknowledge the sacrifices the Saint’s made for the promotion of the faith. Before that there were community celebrations of fertility.
Try to think of Valentine’s Day the way we think of county fairs. Everyone gets together and does a grand seed exchange so that their household gardens carry enough variety to feed the family. Some people are just better seed savers than others. Some people had bumper crops last season and others didn’t. All together the community is stronger for sharing and trading, and getting a blessing upon the seeds, before the planting time comes upon us.
From that fantasy we move to grade school shoe boxes and card exchanges. We were all told that we should give a card to every other kid in the class, but that was never what really happened. The popular kids always had more cards, and the best ones. The least popular kid had a few cards and they were all the same. The packs always had a lame card and that one unanimously went to the least popular kid. Why on earth are we promoting “love” relationships in grade school anyway? Isn’t there enough time for disappointment later in life?
I met my first husband on Valentine’s Day. We were college students and he lived near campus. A mutual friend invited me to join him for a gaming session. (Yes, I was once a fantasy role player.) Since I had a rehearsal on campus that morning (and a theater major) we agreed I could just meet him there. So I knocked on the door of a stranger with a bag of chocolate hearts in my hand. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it sure was a convenient place to crash after a late night rehearsal.
Now, single yet again, I have no real plans or interest in the day. My daughter, however, is desperately trying to squeeze in some time with her boyfriend. The things we perpetuate! I must be feeling a little sorry for myself since I bought a chocolate cake the last time I was at the grocery. It has a little red sugar heart on top.
I’ve been looking for hearts. There isn’t a lot of color in the winter, but occasionally there is the red flash of a cardinal. The poet Chaucer apparently promoted the idea that this is the time of year that birds choose their mates. I like that idea, for the birds. Of course the reality of both birds and seeds is that climate makes a difference. It’s a little early here in Minnesota to be getting the seeds out. We just need to get the orders in before the end of the month to get the early discount.
So maybe this holiday is just a little reminder. In spite of the cold and the (guaranteed regardless of the groundhog) 6 more weeks of winter I could stand to open my heart a little more. I can be aware of all that I have to be grateful for. I can be open to compassion for others and especially for myself. With that in mind, I got myself a card.
Happy Heart Day!