I have always loved Valentine's Day. It brings out the romantic in me. Ever since I was a child this holiday has spoken to my heart. People seem to be kinder on February 14th, softer. Yes, I know that not everyone likes this holiday (and for good reasons), but for me it has always been a day that brings a smile to my face, even during the years when I didn't have a valentine.
Okay, so maybe that isn't totally true. There were a few years in high school where V Day would definitely create butterflies in my stomach. Each year my school hosted a fundraiser where you could purchase carnations for the person you liked. Oh, how I wanted to get a carnation on that day from whomever was my current crush! But usually the day would come and go and I would head home without a flower...except for the year I received two. One was from a boy in my American Studies class. He was actually a good friend of the boy I was crushing on, a nice enough guy but definitely not who I was hoping would want to be my valentine. Some girls might have let their disappointment show but I just smiled, said thank you, and went on my way...quietly hoping none of my friends had seen the exchange.
High School is so full of angst, isn't it?
Later that afternoon, as I was walking to band practice (sans flower, I had stashed it in my locker to avoid having to answer questions), a guy who I'd always thought was cute (okay, I had a lot of crushes) approached me with a red carnation. "Grace, this is for you," he said as he handed me the flower. I was stunned. He'd never paid that much attention to me, so the gift was totally unexpected. Trying (unsuccessfully) to hide my surprise, I smiled, said thank you, then continued on my way.
The memory of that cute guy giving me a carnation on Valentine's Day warmed my heart for the rest of my high school career. Not being the most confident girl when I was 16, it was a small boost to my self-esteem to think that one of the handsomer guys in my class had thought to give me a token of love. It wasn't until today, while preparing to write this post, that it occurred to me that perhaps the carnation was one that had been given to him by someone he didn't like and he decided to pass it on to the first girl he saw.
Who happened to be me.
I'm sort of glad this thought didn't occur to me all those years ago, you know? I went home that day with two carnations and a smile on my face.
For the past 37+ years I have been married to the love of my life and best friend. He has never been a fan of Valentine's Day...he calls it a Hallmark holiday...but he still brings me my favorite candy and a card. His unsentimental view of the holiday used to bother me when we were young but as we have aged I've grown to realize what is most important is how he never lets a day go by without telling me he loves me. With him by my side every day is Valentine's Day.