When I first met Dean, he absolutely hated Valentine’s Day. Imagine spitting-mad, vehement disgust and multiply that by three or four. I wasn’t his girlfriend at the time so it didn’t really matter, but it did seem a shocking amount of disdain.
When I asked him about it, he ranted that it was a fake holiday invented by Hallmark for nothing but profit and used to make single folks feel like shit about themselves and their lives.
I didn’t like Dean all that much then, so it’s probably better that I didn’t yet know the true origins of Valentine’s Day because, if I had, I’d have surely been surly enough to offer them and he’d have probably eaten me for lunch.
But now that we’re married and everything is hunky-dory, I’ll say this:
Valentine’s Day started as a pagan festival (a rather bloody one – Dean probably would have appreciated that detail), which was then co-opted per usual by a Pope who turned it into a Christian feast day. In both cases, it was associated with love, and exchanging handmade paper cards was actually the fashion in the Middle Ages… a bit before Hallmark. In fact, it wasn’t even Hallmark that began factory producing such cards. In the US, that started in the late 1800s and it wasn’t until 1913 that Hallmark got into the act.
So, whatever Valentine’s Day is or isn’t to any given person, it’s not a “fake holiday invented by Hallmark for nothing but profit” (though, heaven knows, they’re profiting!).
It seemed, at the time, also a bit of a stretch to think that anyone was intending to make single folks miserable. But, whatever. Clearly, Dean wasn’t thinking straight as evidenced by the foaming mouth.
Given all this, it might surprise you to hear that, on our first Valentine’s as a couple (love having finally trumped my surliness), Dean went all out — flowers, dinner, a lovely card. And since that day, boy, has he relished the holiday. For the longest time, he’d buy as many cards as the number of years we’d been together and hide them all over the house for me to find unwittingly as I went about my day. Talk about a romantic! When I reminded him once of his original bitterness, he seemed genuinely surprised by the memory. It appeared chronic singlehood had, indeed, poisoned his mind but nothing, in the end, could damage his true heart.
I’m gratefully the beneficiary of that soft heart, and this holiday is made only sweeter now by our son’s annual homemades.
If you’re among those spitting blood today, I apologize for being about to maybe make it worse. And if you’re celebrating the sweetness, I salute your brave, tender heart.
Here’s a funny story I wrote last year in honor of Valentine’s Day. It’s about me and Dean and my one and only experience of love at first sight which, much to his dismay, wasn’t Dean. But, I think you’ll agree, it turned out all right for all of us. And it gave me one of the sweetest, most heart-warming stories to tell.
Happy Valentine’s Day. xo