14 February 2006


Before, I always approached days like today with grand expectation. Flowers, and dinner by candlelight (with reservations booked well in advance) and romantic notes and hearts and candy and poetry and cupids and love and fluffiness and everything red and pink and gushy. That is what Valentine’s Day is all about and it only comes along once a year so it’s important to get it right. Right?

I am sure I’m not the only woman out there who has thought this way. And maybe it’s because romance is so important to most of us and there are only certain times of the year when it’s almost guaranteed, so it’s easy to attach a lot of anticipation to what the day will be.

On my first Valentine’s Day with Jeremy (when we were dating,) I thought about the fact that Valentine’s Day is for guys too (at least I convinced myself that’s what I was thinking) and decided that I would create my idea of the perfect date for us. I made a gourmet dinner and decorated my house with hearts all over the place. I bought brushes and a canvas for us to paint something together (which we still have, in the basement) and prepared a fancy dessert. The evening was going well…until right after dinner when Jeremy got a discouraging work-related phone call that preoccupied him for the rest of the night. I cried because the perfect evening I’d imagined had gone haywire.

Now…it’s three years later, and I’ve pretty much let my expectations go. Not because Jeremy isn’t romantic, but because on a few occasions where I put too much pressure on him (by way of relentless hinting) to create an amazing day, he was so worried about messing things up that he didn’t enjoy the day at all. And I realized something. Duh. It’s not all about me. A perfectly planned day with someone I love is far from perfect if he can’t enjoy it too.

This year, I didn’t have any ideas in my mind of what Valentine’s Day should be, except that I wanted to spend it with my husband. I wanted to serve him and just let him be himself. We started the day with eggs and toast at the table, and exchanged cards and bars of French chocolate (we unknowingly bought each other the exact same kind). I gave Jeremy a tin of his favorite tea, and then we cleaned up the kitchen together. The morning was easy and void of pressure, but still different than our usual mornings of coffee and cereal in front of our laptops. About an hour later while I was folding laundry, the doorbell rang and a box arrived with a dozen lovely tulips… a great surprise. Roses are beautiful, but I honestly prefer something more unique, and this just confirmed that Jeremy understands that about me…which is really the best part of any gift in my opinion--feeling that you’re known.

In the afternoon, we roamed around town together, grabbing a quick lunch and doing a few errands. Everywhere we went there were hearts and flowers and stuffed animals being bought in a crunch. Suddenly, all of it seemed forced, and I felt sympathy for all those guys in the checkout lines with bears in their arms and looks of frantic concern upon their faces.

At 5:00, we got dressed for dinner and went to one of our favorite restaurants in town. We got a table right away, but even if we hadn’t, I know I would have enjoyed the wait. On the way home, we drove around our neighborhood just admiring all the pretty houses and imagining what they were like inside. And then we watched Harold and Maude in our pajamas.

It was such a good day, and it confirmed my new philosophy about romance. This Valentine’s Day, I let go of my inflexible expectations and didn’t try to force every moment into some ridiculous heart-shaped box where it couldn’t breathe. And I realized that sometimes the most perfect days are the ones that happen when I’m not trying so hard to perfect them.


Christine said...

I'll toast to that! I love how you described real love being in the little things, like coffee and toast and even cleaning the kitchen together and watching movies in your PJs. We watched Braveheart last night in our PJs :) I hope as those tulips stay bright for a week or more, that you're reminded everyday of the gift you have in your husband.


Amy Tate said...

I'm glad that you found a sweetie who will watch Harold & Maude with you!

Amy Alexander said...

Your day sounds so wonderful! You deserve that!