Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Instead, We Created Our Own Romantic Day

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Instead, We Created Our Own Romantic Day

Article excerpt

My husband, Hank, calls Valentine's Day a "Hallmark Holiday." He says it's a commercial ploy to boost card sales, and I vividly remember my disappointment on our first Valentine's Day as a married couple.

We were at home in our tiny apartment. Hank was upstairs watching the UCLA Bruins play the Oregon Ducks in a tightly matched basketball game.

The doorbell rang. "I got a big box of Mrs. Field's cookies," I called out to my husband. "They just arrived special delivery!"

I rushed upstairs to thank him, but stopped halfway up after I read the card. "Happy Valentine's Day to my new daughter-in-law. Love, Bob."

Resigned, I pried open the box and continued up the stairs. "They're from your dad," I said with a sigh as I plopped down on the sofa next to him. I offered him a cookie and he took it without comment. Then he noticed the disappointment on my face. "Look, I love you," he told me, "but I'm not going to let a greeting-card company tell me when to show it."

"Sure," I said, hugging the cookie tin a little tighter.

Four years later, Hank actually gave in on Valentine's Day and presented me with a bouquet of pink camellias from the garden. "It wasn't my idea," he confessed, as he handed me the flowers.

"It was mine, Mommy," our toddler, Allan, piped up.

For years after that, though, Hank was resolute. Whenever I presented him with a Valentine, he'd thank me and re-explain how he felt about the occasion.

I started to dread Valentine's Day. I cringed when I saw those chalky heart-shaped candies with the cute messages on them, the big helium heart-shaped balloons, the "dozen roses" specials.

With three children in the house, I felt it was important to make a big deal about Valentine's for them. I decorated the front door with hearts, helped make valentines, and even took our youngest son, Joe, to buy some roses for his girlfriend. Waiting patiently in the driveway while our 11-year-old rang the doorbell to make his big delivery, I saw him strike out, too. The girl was at a soccer game, and he had to hand the flowers to her mother. …

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