Top Valentine Memories in 25 Years
Jeff & I will are celebrating our 25th Valentine's Day together this weekend. With that many, there have been some incredible celebrations, disappointing ones, and lonely ones. As I thought about the expectations I can tend to bring to this celebrated day of love, I took the time to remember what stood out to me? Was what spoke to me, what I thought I wanted?
* 1st Valentine Day together - Jeff & I were in college today, and this was the first Valentine Day I would celebrate with a real boyfriend. I didn't know what to expect. Twenty-five years later, I can still feel the excitement I felt that day as I got ready for classes, a knock came at my door, and as I opened it, there was a delivery from Jeff. It was a large opaque balloon and inside was a teddy bear holding chocolates and some flowers. My heart soared.
We had plans that night for dinner with our friends, Paul & Debbie who months later would be attendants in our wedding party, and we would do the same in their's, two weeks apart from each other. Jeff & I were so excited about dinner that we decided we needed to look our best and get a little color, so we went to the local tanning bed. Not having much experience, I baked too long. I can still remember the toasty feeling that rose from my burnt skin as I got ready and sat through dinner. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Jeff is very romantic and that first Valentine's Day made me feel like his princess.
*1st Valentine Day as husband & wife - We were six months into our marriage and our lives were very busy with opposite schedules at work. I took the day off work, and I was so excited to have a husband to love on for Valentine's Day. I wanted to go all out. So, when he was walking in the door to our apartment complex after work, he was greeted by a trail of hearts where the first one read: follow the hearts to find your Valentine. They lead him through our door, past the romantic candle lit dinner table, into the refrigerator where his cheesecake was, past the stove where the beef burgundy was cooking, and to me where I stood with a Valentine strike sign reading: Can I be your Valentine?
The gift for me was the thrill I had flowed through me all day as I paid attention to every detail. Or at least, I can recognize that now. I went to bed disappointed because Jeff's reaction or gratitude wasn't what I wanted. I realize now, I expected him to act like me. Thank God he doesn't, but that was my selfish expectation that led to my disappointment.
*A Valentine Day of Change - As I have shared many times, about six years ago transformation began in both Jeff & I and we both felt like we woke up from our numb existence. As Valentine's Day came, I realized that up until that year I had been expecting Jeff to put no effort into Valentine's Day, and that is what was occurring. I recognized that I had been doing all the investing for the kids Valentine's and had never thought to invite him into it. So, I asked him if he had any thoughts about what he wanted to do for the kids for Valentine's Day. Much to my surprise, he said yes, I would like to go to the store with you and help you pick out something for them. I remember the tears that filled my eyes as we stood there in the store aisle and he tediously picked out a chocolate filled heart for each of the kids - talking out loud about why one of them had to have this one and how this other one was meant for another one of our four children. I saw him show up that day as a father in a way I had always longed for but had no idea I had been blocking it, by assuming he wouldn't have an interest in being involved.
*Last Years Valentine Day - Jeff was away on business for three weeks in Hawaii. We had never been there before and whenever Jeff visits a new place he longs to experience it with the kids and I. So as the weeks past he begged me to come and join him for the last few days of his trip which happened to be February 11-13th. I didn't think anything about it being close to Valentine's Day, but when my flight landed, I received a text from him filled with clues to surprises he had awaiting me over the next two days. He whisked me away to the most romantic weekend of my life and spoiled me rotten, telling me that he had never thanked me for that first Valentine's Day that I had done for him 24 years prior in our apartment, and he wanted to show me how much it meant to him. I still can't put into words what his expression of love meant to me. But what I can say is I learned that sometimes not getting what I want at the moment (a crazy reaction of gratitude 23 years prior), doesn't mean it isn't headed my way in the future.
As I look back over 25 years of Valentine experiences, I see how I many times I got in my way of what I longed for. When I stopped making Valentine's about what I was supposed to have, didn't have, and wouldn't have, they have been the best Valentine's ever. I realize what I was longing for on those disappointing and lonely Valentine Day's was an ability to offer and receive love. I thought that would come through, flowers, chocolates, and romantic dinners. However, where I am experiencing it is in the simplicity of being present with myself, offering the love my heart calls me to and receiving how it comes back to me.