The circle of love

It’s the day after Valentine’s Day, so the over-priced roses may be beginning to fade, the chocolate hearts are long gone and perhaps some of the goodwill towards our significant others has dissipated a little.

But since I’m writing this on Feb. 14, the day of love and displays of same are on my mind.

Valentine’s Day is one of those days that I sometimes think is designed to make those not in relationships feel bad for being single and those in relationships feel guilty for not doing enough for their beloved.

When I was younger and single or just dating someone completely wrong for me I dreamed of the big gesture. Not just a card, but chocolates, a romantic meal somewhere and perhaps throw in a Valentine’s Day marriage proposal while you’re at it.

Over the years, I did receive several of the aforementioned gifts, including a marriage proposal, at long last, on Valentine’s Day 1994. The proposal ended in a wedding less than a year later and nearly 18 years later, here we are. Older, not necessarily wiser and certainly nowhere near as romantic as we once were.

The cynic in me says one day a year to show your love is ridiculous and designed just to keep Hallmark in business. We should be treating our loved ones with care and devotion the other 364 days of the year. And as I perused the card racks the other day looking for the perfect declaration of love, I balked at paying anywhere from $5 to $12 just for a card.

But then I look at the finest example of a couple married for years but still taking the time to do the little things to express their love for each other: my parents.

They always remembered to give each other something on Valentine’s Day, not to mention anniversaries, birthdays and other holidays.

It didn’t matter that they had an amazing relationship that lasted 53 years. Every Friday when my dad came home from work, he walked through the door bearing a bouquet of roses for my mom. It was a lovely gesture that was not necessary as she knew how much she was loved, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

And Mom always sought out the perfect gift for her beloved: a beautiful pair of cufflinks or a first edition of a book he wanted to read.

They didn’t need to do these things, because they expressed their love for each other daily. They were truly each other’s best friend, delighting in each other’s company while at the same time giving each other the time and space they needed to pursue their own interests: “And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow,” in the words of Kahlil Gibran on marriage, the cringe-inducing poem we had read at our own wedding (it was the ‘90s).

But they took pleasure in giving each other little surprises throughout the year. And those weekly bouquets of roses were dried and saved, the rose petals scattered by my niece, who was flowergirl at my wedding, completing the circle of love.

And so while making a grand gesture once  a year while treating your partner without care the rest of the year is ridiculous, I do think a little token of love is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes it’s easy to forget the romance of that big day where we were surrounded by our loved ones and vowing to love honour and cherish one another.

So if it takes a bouquet of over-priced roses and a box of chocolate truffles to remind you of why you fell in love, then so be it. My dad lost his Valentine five years ago, and I know he would give anything to be perusing the racks of over-priced cards just one more time.

So when my husband and daughter presented me with their cards yesterday morning, I was touched by this sweet and simple display of their love for me. As Shakespeare once said, “They do not love that do not show their love.”


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