The 14th Day…Beyond the Hype

The 14th Day…Beyond the Hype

A day known for love and romance is quickly approaching, and there are A-LOT of expectations wrapped up in just that one gentle rotation of the earth. 

If we buy into all the hype, there are roses to be delivered, perfect gifts to be wrapped, and dinner reservations to be made…weeks in advance. Plus, there’s an overwhelming assortment of cards and candies to choose from, which start filling up store shelves mere moments after the ball drops in Times Square.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Valentine’s Day. I’ve just never felt an overwhelming need to be wined and dined on this one particular day of the year. Even as a kid, I don’t remember it being that big of a deal…

I’m not sure if that incident in grade school has anything to do with it, but if your earliest memory of Valentine’s Day is laughing so hard you pee your pants…February 14th might not be your best day for romance.

Remember those Sweethearts candies, the ones with the cute little sayings like, “Kiss Me” and “You Rock”? Our teacher had the brilliant idea for all of us to read one aloud to the nearest boy if you were a girl or vice versa—one at a time—with everyone focused on you! 

Imagine having to ask the boy who calls you “bigfoot” at recess, if he wants to “Marry Me?” while fifty laughing-eyes stare in a chorus of giggles? 

All I could do was laugh along uncomfortably…unfortunately, I laughed too hard. That’s when it happened, the so-called “Sweetheart incident.”  Trying to keep it on the down-low, I quickly tied my sweatshirt around my waist (hiding my indiscretion), before sneaking out of class as fast as possible. Those chalky heart-shaped candies have haunted me ever since.

I don’t recall all of my Valentine’s Days past, but a few—for better or for worse—are memorable in their own special way…

One year, a boyfriend gave me a dozen red roses, a box of Russell Stover chocolates, and a teddy bear. That teddy bear is one of many reasons said boyfriend is no longer in the picture. 

As we discussed our plans for the big day, I happened to mention how cheesy I thought it was for couples to exchange stuffed animals. So what does the guy do? 

He gets me—wait for it— a teddy bear holding a stuffed version of a Sweetheart candy (best memory ever!) printed with “Be Mine.” It was definitely the beginning of the end for us.

Jumping way ahead in the time machine…

There was this one special Valentine’s Day shortly after we were married when my husband left little love notes all over the bathroom. He then proceeded to send me sweet nothings, via the World-Wide-Web, for the rest of the day. 

Walking in the door that evening, he greeted me with a kiss and a glass of wine as he escorted me upstairs to a warm bubble bath sprinkled with rose petals. I asked him about it as I prepared this article, and he laughed saying, “I must’ve seen it in a movie.” Sadly, no rose petals have ever graced my bubble bath since.

So, you know what I remember most about good ole’ days of Valentine’s Day when the kids were in grade school? Staying up late the night before the class parties to scribble their cute little signatures on each of those 75-plus miniature cards. Then folding those little buggers in half, while trying clip the tiny half-moon into the irritatingly small cut out. (Insert frustrated emoji here!!)

Of course, my kids didn’t want to only give cards, they wanted to give candy too. But, if you opted to include candy, you had to follow the Allergy Guide. “No nuts, remember-not everyone likes chocolate, some kids can only have sugar free, and others are gluten-free… and it went on.” It was SO stressful trying to meet everyone’s dietary needs—for candy!

All kidding aside, my husband and I have always acknowledged Valentine’s Day with each other and the kids in some small way. From love notes to small gifts, but making each other feel loved and appreciated has never been reserved for just February 14th.

What really matters is how we treat each other every day of the year. When we show up as the best version of ourselves for our spouse, our family and our friends, the myriad of ways we experience and express love are pretty extraordinary! 

It’s exactly why I’m a little hesitant to get overly hyped about this one particular day in February—when we ALL already LOVE the special people in our lives—TWO-FOUR-SEVEN-THREE-SIX-FIVE!

So this Valentine’s Day, if you’re stressing about creating the perfect date night or staying up late actually making Valentine’s cards with your kids, try to remember what’s really important about the 14th

It’s just one of many days to count our blessings, and remind our loved ones how fortunate we are to have them in our lives.

The Love Affair

The Love Affair

I am having an affair. I should feel very, very guilty … but I don’t. He’s a married father of three. I’m also married with three children. I happen to know his kids very well. In fact, I’ve known his wife my whole life. She is me, I am her. I’m having an affair with my husband.

It’s strangely quiet in our house this week while ALL of our children are gone. Our oldest recently moved south for his first job after college graduation and it’s going well for him. Our second is up in Canada with one of his best buddies visiting his other good friend’s family. Our youngest is at her favorite place in the world, a week-long overnight camp an hour north of us. 

We know all of our kids are safe and happy, soooo we can thoroughly enjoy these few days and nights that we have together. ALL BY OURSELVES. Did I mention that we’re ALONE? Good food, great wine, sweet music, and warm candlelight – we’re loving like we mean it.

We often wonder what we’ll talk about when the kids are completely grown up and not one of them is under our roof. If this week is any indication, it’s them. And we wonder, will we like each other? Yes we do. Yes, we most certainly do.

We’re approaching the thirty-first anniversary of the first time I fell for this guy I’m currently romancing. It was at a party about a month before he was leaving for college. We went on a date or two prior to that, but nothing serious. But THAT night, when he walked confidently through the front door of a friend’s home … I loved the way his shorts fit his waist and the look of his strong, tanned wrists. Truly! I’m not kidding!

We started dating exclusively after that fateful gathering, mostly long-distance because we attended universities in different states, but we married six years later on a snowy February afternoon. 

We keep several shoeboxes of cards and notes to and from one another, sent during the painful stretches we had to be apart, and still add new love letters to the collection now, even though we’ve been together and sharing the same address for over two and a half decades. 

Both my parents and my husband’s, had long-standing, rich marriages and without us even realizing it, modeled to he and I what a healthy, satisfying day to day relationship could look like. That’s a legacy that we prayerfully plan to hand down to future generations, starting with the dear souls that we’ve been raising, and pray that they each, often, have a married “affair” of their own. 

I sometimes daydream about them and about our daughter and sons’ futures and who they might marry, then realize that God already has every minute of their days mapped out. Whenever I look at those three, my heart fills with joy and understanding. God knew from the very beginning of time that my love and I were going to belong together and that those precious ones were going to belong to us. He will work out the details, big and small, for them also.

I’m mindful that the tenderness and affection we have in our marriage can be rare and I’m grateful. I know that every day is a gift from God and I’m thankful. Our girl and our boys have grown at the speed of light and all of our lives are constantly changing. I could worry about tomorrow, but why? I’ll enjoy today and let tomorrow take care of itself.

And tonight, right now, I’ll light the votives, pour two glasses of cabernet, play our favorite album and place dinner on the table…my beloved is almost home.

“My beloved is mine and I am his… ” Song of Songs 2:16

Weaving Two Lives Together

Weaving Two Lives Together

“In the tapestry of life, we are all connected.”- Unknown

Last weekend I flew from the lush Willamette Valley in Oregon to the arid desert of Tucson, Arizona to witness a longtime friend’s daughter marry her sweetheart.

The outdoor setting was spectacular: a white rose and eucalyptus draped arbor was nestled perfectly under the shade of a decades old Palo Verde, where twenty-two wedding attendants waited cheerfully to welcome the bride down the grassy green aisle on the proud arm of her father; there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.

If that weren’t enough, the rocky Santa Catalina Mountain Range jetted up behind the bride and groom less than a mile from where we were seated to behold this blessed event; it was simply breathtaking.

As the wedding unfolded, even this gorgeous setting was eclipsed by the story their pastor told of all the close familial ties and friendships that have been woven together through the years making this celebration a reality.

Taking us back in time, the charismatic pastor told how as a 6th grader in a new school the bride’s father had befriended him and invited him to sit with his buddies in the cafeteria. 

None of these pubescent boys could’ve imagined the divine intervention taking place at that pint-sized table which ultimately led the father of the bride to meet his wife years later. 

Because it was the pastor who would eventually introduce a cute twenty-something co-worker to his childhood friend, from this union the bride was born.

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As the officiant continued to weave this rich tapestry of relationships, he noted it was only through these longstanding connections that the bride and groom would meet a few years ago in the Windy City, 2,000 miles away from this desert sanctuary.

Scattered amongst the vows and ceremonial traditions was the acknowledgment of all the friends of the bride and groom who have traveled far to support this couple. 

As he spoke on the importance of maintaining these ties, I couldn’t help but think of all the family, friends and the purely divine hand that had helped create and maintain my own marriage over the last twenty-seven years.

The pastor reminded all of us our lives crosses the lives of many others and most significantly it’s entwined with the lives of a special few, those friends and family members who will support and encourage us during the most challenging of times. 

Together, this young couple will begin to weave their own tapestry with a richness of history, familial ties, friendships, triumphs and of course some disappointments, which will only serve to enhance its splendor.