I walked into a store the other day and was overwhelmed with displays for Valentine’s Day. Seriously overwhelmed. Candy and cookies and toys (especially stuffed animals – what it is about plush animals that screams Be My Valentine! – and yet I don’t deny the attraction.) And cards. Hundreds of cards. At least it seemed like hundreds.
I wasn’t thinking about Valentines when I went to the store, but when I walked in that day it suddenly hit me that for the first time in a long time I have a Valentine. I often send Valentine cards to family members and friends, usually the funny kind, but this year I have an actual Valentine. So I read the cards.
I read nearly every card that could possibly be appropriate for me to send and many that weren’t. I stood there for about 45 minutes reading cards. None of them were quite right. Either the pictures were good but the words weren’t. Or the words were nice but the picture left me cold. Or both words and picture were inappropriate or unfunny or just didn’t fit us. I put the last card back and walked away. I didn’t leave empty-handed. I bought a toilet seat which was the real reason I walked into the store in the first place.
I’m not upset that I didn’t find the perfect card. I can always made my own and write whatever I like in it. Or just draw my own picture or take my own photo. I don’t need to send a card really. I could bake something. Or write a song and sing it. But I don’t even need to do that. I have already told him the story of reading every card in the store and that’s enough. And I don’t need a card from him either. Just knowing he’s there every day is enough. Buying a Valentine doesn’t make him my Valentine.
(Okay, I probably will get him a Valentine, but don’t say anything because this way it will be a total surprise. Shhh…)
I suspect there are no perfect Valentine cards, no perfect Valentine gifts, no perfect Valentine sentiments. I suspect there are no perfect Valentines. There are only people with whom we connect in one way or another – sometimes as friends, sometimes as family, sometimes as lovers, sometimes all three, but the more categories that apply the more we realize that they aren’t perfect people and neither are we. Valentine’s Day is really about appreciating the good things about another person; appreciating all the wonderful things about another person; even appreciating the not so wonderful things that make that person human and accessible and charming and, yes, lovable.
There are many versions of this song by Rogers and Hart. This one is one of my favorites.
Happy Valentine’s Day