Valentine’s Day is strange. It’s a holiday where we show our love by force-feeding each other enough sugar to send ourselves into a diabetic coma. The commercial part of it that so many people complain about doesn’t really bother me, and let’s face it, we would all rather have (and give) an actual purchased gift of some kind rather than a heartfelt poem or a written promise to do something meaningful for someone else. Now, don’t get me wrong. These are fine gifts, as long as they are accompanied by a metric ton of chocolate.
My kids seems to be under the impression that Valentine’s Day is a second Christmas. In fact, about five minutes after they received their presents this past Christmas morning, they were placing their orders for Valentine’s Day. Whatever happened to a chimpanzee card and a box of barely edible candy Conversation Hearts? You know, the ones that are like eating pea gravel dipped in Pepto-Bismol and say things like “Hug Me,” “I’m Yours,” and “I can’t believe you’re actually considering eating this.” Really, though, my kids’ expectations about gifts on virtually every holiday are completely my fault. I’ve trained them to accept my love in this way. Some would call it spoiling, but I like to think of it as distributive parental affection (otherwise known as spoiling). This way, I can refuse to speak to them before 10:00 am, and they know I still love them (or at least will continue to buy them gifts).
In addition to showing my love towards my kids on Valentine’s Day, it’s also a time for romance! My wife and I are always on the lookout for romantic opportunities (at least I am). These usually occur when all of the kids have been placed in the overnight care of some other kid’s parents who will undoubtedly be plotting their imminent revenge upon us. The last time Susan and I had such an opportunity, we were giddy with the thought of the passionate and meaningful evening that we would experience. We planned to have a lovely dinner, perhaps share a movie, and then . . . . (I’ll spare you the details and pray for your impure thoughts). Anyway, we did wind up going out to eat at Outback Steakhouse, and it was delicious, especially since it was paid for with a gift card Susan received for Christmas. (I let her share her Christmas joy with me.)
From there, romance took a back seat to life with three children. We suddenly realized that if we wanted to eat again anytime in the near future, we would have to make one of our bi-weekly visits to our most often visited destination, Walt-Mart. And it’s hard to keep the fires of romance blazing when you’re buying cat food and ham. Going to Wal-Mart is like going to the dentist. None of us wants to go there, but we know it’s what’s best. (Although, clearly, some Wal-Mart shoppers wouldn’t understand the dentist analogy.)
By the time we had climbed the Everest that is Wal-Mart and headed home with a rainforest worth of toilet paper (and even some groceries), we were even more anxious to head for the bedroom and Do It all night long and late into the morning. Neither of us woke up even once. It was beautiful! (Still praying for your impure thoughts.)
For Valentine’s Day this year, I’m looking forward to giving my wife and kids a day full of love and gift-giving, a chance to show them that they mean everything to me, even in the morning when I refuse to speak to them. There might even be a little romance thrown in there somewhere, unless (of course) we run out of cat food.