It is Valentine’s Day. I am thinking about those yucky, chalky, pastel “conversation hearts” in the flat red boxes we used to get at Valentine’s Day parties in elementary school. Remember those? They all tasted like wintergreen, if I recall. I think they were actually called “Sweethearts” or something like that? There is nothing like a pink pastel candy heart that has “hubba hubba” printed on it to initiate the gag reflex. In fact, just now, as I was writing that sentence, I could feel my throat constrict just a tad.
My grandfather never let the holiday go by without giving all of his grandchildren personal sized heart shaped boxes of Russell Stover chocolates. He was a diabetic, and I think he lived vicariously through us every February 14th. He died when I was a sophomore in college, and I missed him the way that granddaughters who have been lucky enough to have had wonderful grandfathers do. Deeply. He was my first Valentine. Not one Valentine’s Day has passed that I haven’t thought of him.
I have been married for a really long time. It is easy to get lazy with one another when it comes to matters of the heart after nearly three decades of Valentine’s Days. I know this, and he knows this, too. We laugh together about the KAY jewelry store commercials and the tandem bathtubs in the Cialis commercials a lot these days. Gallows humor, perhaps? We dream up new ways to embarrass our grown children. We eat Sunday night dinner in front of the TV as we watch “60 Minutes” together the way we did for years before we felt a moral obligation to teach children table manners. And it is good, this life we’ve woven together. In a cold world, we keep each other warm.
We have mellowed. We are kinder to each other. We have lowered our expectations. Or maybe we are just tired. Who knows? Interesting to ponder this, isn’t it? We share a history. We are yoked together by a shared past full of moments….many of them mundane, a few pretty crappy, and others quite fabulous.
I made a batch of his favorite cut out cookies over the weekend. He brought me a bouquet of flowers that makes me smile each time I pass the dining room table. I have no idea what I’m making for dinner or even if we’ll eat it together on this day set aside for sweethearts. And the best part is that I don’t care, and neither will he.
Nobody will ever write a love song about us or ask us to star in a commercial that includes bathtubs.
But so far, our system appears to be working.
Happy Valentine’s Day!