Saturday, February 13, 2010

Is it in the cards?

        The one inch wide opening in the lid of the shoebox waited to swallow the validation I needed. The foil covered box with the randomly applied homemade hearts and adorned with ric-rac was what my young soul needed to help me know I was someone’s Valentine. The annual gesture of love and appreciation bestowed upon me from my peers finally arrived to where I would get the small folded tokens I desired to feel acknowledged, adored, perhaps even loved. Although the ubiquitous cards were as abundant as ticker tape in a hero’s parade, I cherished them as if “Be Mine” were a personal message from each young lady I had a crush on. Her personally scrawled, yet awkwardly scribed signature in the “from” line was intended for me to know it was from her, to me. Due to my initials: A. A. (Anthony Anders), I often sat in the first chair, first row, and got the first Valentines. I liked to feel, me getting the first cards was intentional. I see now getting them first was coincidental, getting any at all obligatory to each and every classmate. I still felt special. It was my choice.

        Later--- years after the tradition of placing the bi-folded gestures in a home-made box waned, I noticed a new tradition of exchanging flowers surfaced as a new way of dividing one another of those who had the adoration of another or others (plural) and those who apparently did not. Like feathers in the warriors head dress, the conquests visible for all to see, we were given the opportunity in our school as a fundraiser, the ability to buy flowers for our targets of affection. There were always the individuals who had bouquets so bountiful, they had to make trips to their locker to drop off the new acquisitions, to make room for more; and there would be more. I also remember the faces as they would light up with hope as the delivery person would appear with a bundle, and ceremoniously call out the names one at a time to pass out the tokens of love and adoration. I too remember the eyes of many cast downward in sadness as they were passed by. The problem being not only being passed by, but to get passed by again and again, in front of their peers, and then to leave school that day with no flowers in hand, both male or female. It must have been a long trip home feeling forgotten, unloved, and that the whole student body knew it. I can verify at times it was hard.

        As life progressed and the ability to take a date to a place nicer than one that has a clown for a mascot or super-sizing being part of the menu; I noticed the Valentine holiday became pressing as the awareness of being in a relationship, love, or even being “in-like” with someone was brought to the foreground of one’s priorities as the holiday approached. The “love holiday” often nudged us to realize we are to be coupled, to be searching for, or celebrating the love we currently have, or to get on the ball. Who wants to be eating take out Chinese on a TV tray watching movies on Pay-per-view, when the whole world is out on the town, in a romantic embrace, often paying twice as much for bad service in a dimly lit bistro? I remember feeling, “What is wrong with me?” “Damn you Hallmark”, I would curse to the heavens. I recommend Hunan Lion off Bethel Rd.

        My bitterness has long since faded as I refuse to substantiate how I am loved, by how many, or to what degree by the receipt of a card, flower, or chocolates, (Although I still love all the above.) I also find it hard to feel that 1/365th of my year is the benchmark to the relationships in my life as well as if I am worthy of love especially in respect to whether or not I get a physical token.

        I have been with my wife going on twenty years total, and we exchange our tokens. (She likes Anthony Thomas Chocolate covered strawberries.) I know enough about women and wives to know not to fumble there. If I do the story better include terrorists. I enjoy holidays as much as the next guy, but I have matured to realize that the gesture on one day does not make or break my love for others and the worthiness of receiving it. I also realize that even if one thinks that it is a “Hallmark” or consumerism holiday, it is often only a couple dollars and a few minutes investment to make a difference to those who cherish the gestures we bestow upon them consumerist or not. Most importantly I have found that the best Valentine was not created by Saint Valentine, but by Alexander Graham Bell. You can call your mother or father. You can call your kids. Call your spouse. Call your friends. If this is too personal for you, perhaps an electronic nod in the direction of those you appreciate or love is always nice to receive. Make Facebook worth your time for once. Take a lead from kids who make the best valentines, and I treasure every one I receive from mine (see above for this year's). The loving intention behind making the connection is a valentine in itself. One we can also do the other 364 days of the year.

        Love does not have to be reciprocated to be validated. Someone does not have to be aware of our love to make it real to us. Sometimes we have to love at a distance. What we send out, we get back. Remember this, don’t forget to love yourself. Show in your own best way to express your love for those who matter in your life. Profess your gratitude to your friends for their presence in your life. And finally, spend more time expressing your love than you do picking out your valentines.

I love you all! Happy Valentine’s Day 24/7/365...

           * Note - This post also found on my blog


Beth Chapman said...

Tony I would imagine the consensus is to not wait for one day to say I love you. What I really enjoyed was the mention to reach out in person, by phone or some means to say I love you to others. So easy to pop a stamp on a card, but it is the voice we remember, the voice no matter what the conversation that says I love you. I also enjoyed your curse for greeting cards. I've been confronted with the perfect greeting in a card, just perfect, unfortunately it was for either the wrong sex, wrong relationship or age. That's the problem with generic, once a year 'I love you' statements, one size does not fit all. Oh, keep the hand made valentine cards, they're great.

Katherine Jenkins said...

Tony-I so remember the different ways we used to celebrate Valentine's Day throughout life. You described it so well. And, like you said, even if it is consumerism, the point is to reach out...Valentine's Day shouldn't be the only day to do this, but it is a reminder to do this for those who have forgotten what it means to connect. My mother sent me a "hugs" Hallmark e-card this morning and my husband bought me red "live" tulips and a heart box of chocolate. Thanks for reminding me to reach out. I all you do, Katherine