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David Smith / What to do about Valentine’s Day?


Ah, Valentine’s Day is upon us, and all the expectations that go with it.

I’m trying to find someone who loves this holiday, but I’ve been hard-pressed to find a single person to express an exuberance for it other than a shrug of their shoulders. Most people see it as a manufactured holiday, and I have to agree.

But still, what’s a guy to do?

The expression of your love for a person is not something that only happens on Valentine’s Day. It’s a full-time endeavor. If your significant other is awaiting a rare expression of your undying love on Feb. 14, then I have to wonder if you might be in trouble. Or as Dr. Phil would retort, “How’s that working for you?”

I might not be an expert in love and relationships, but I believe you should be offering your partner some sort of small, unselfish loving gesture on at least a daily basis if you want it to work. Life is too short to leave it to chance. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

I don’t fear failure or even dying. My greatest fear is that my wife will not know how much I truly love her. But do I need a Valentine to express it? Therein lies the dilemma we all face. I might have been married to the same woman for 34 years, but I’m no closer to figuring out the female psyche than I was when I held hands with a girl back when I was 13 years old. So don’t look to me for advice in matters of the heart. Each of us has to navigate that course, with all of its twists, turns and surprises. But Valentine’s Day? Ah, what to do with you?

I needed to go back a bit and figure out where it all started, and what I found was that St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. That was a really long time ago, as far back as the High Middle Ages. So how did we get to where we are today?

It seems that we can blame that on poets, who feel the need to prattle on about romantic love, red roses and life’s sweet mystery. And then there are quotations like, “You know you are in love when you see the world in her eyes, and her eyes everywhere in the world.”

The one I liked was, “Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together, and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner.”

Another quote I found has been used to express love in general: “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

But if I were to create a Valentine Day’s card, there were some other sentiments that I liked just as much, such as: “Love reminds you that nothing else matters”; “The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost”; and last but not least, “The thing about falling in love is that if you do it right, you never have to hit the ground.”

Further research shows that in 1797, a British publisher issued “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer.” Yes, you guessed it. The publication contained suggested sentimental verses for those unable to compose their own undying platitudes to love.

And that probably brought us to where we are today, digging through racks of Valentine’s Day cards searching for just the right sentiment. But the words can be elusive, or ring hollow, depending on your point of view. Young love is somehow different than a love that has matured, grown and mellowed with age.

When Terry and I go shopping somewhere and we are wandering the aisles, she will often ask me if I see something I like.

“Just you,” I reply.

She knows the answer before posing the question, but she asks it anyway. Those sort of sentiments or shared experiences are difficult to find on a card. Besides, their meaning might be lost to someone else.

Ah, St. Valentine. What do I do with you?

I guess you can’t go wrong with chocolates and a blank card with your own special sentiments.

Unlike those subscribing to “The Young Man’s Valentine Writer,” I think I can come up with something.

Perhaps all I have to write is “Just you.” She will know what I mean. And isn’t that the point?

David Smith is the editor of The Sun’s weekly publications. This is his personal opinion. He can be reached at dsmith@thewesterlysun.com.



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