TGIF: Planning something special this weekend for Valentine’s Day
I don’t know if I’m any less or any more verbal than the next guy, but after a brief period of self-evaluation, I have concluded that I’m not much of a romantic. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Consider the man in a cartoon shown seated at the dinner table when his wife asks, “Why don’t you ever tell me you love me?” He looks up and says, “I told you I did when we got married, and if anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
It’s not my nature to gush over things, but hopefully, I’m not clueless.
It’s not because I didn’t have a great role model. My mother could really pour it on. I learned — eventually — that she always worried that something was horribly wrong with the mashed potatoes if we didn’t express our utter delight with grandiose embellishments — and then do so repeatedly.
She was herself magnanimous whenever the roles were reversed, as she sought to express her profound appreciation over something as basic as a greeting card. At the same time, there’s a fine line between conveying thanks and embarrassing yourself. Mom was a master at navigating fine lines.
I embrace the philosophy that Valentine’s Day is one of those “holidays” that compels people to do and say things they ought to be doing and saying all year. I recall elementary school experiences when the teacher told students to bring a Valentine’s card for every child in the class, and to put a card in baskets marked with each student’s name. I understand the need to not leave anyone out, but it was uncomfortably impersonal.
Elementary school children inevitably grow up, and the time arrives in most of our lives when those all-encompassing distributions of Valentine’s Day greetings funnel to one very important person.
Even so, it’s my observation that if you wait until February 14 to express affection, you likely have more problems than what a box of candy and a dozen roses will remedy. Guys follow the formula anyway, if only to cover their bases.
Well, most guys do. I feel I’ve been falling down on the job in recent years. How did this happen? There once was a time when my wife and I both made a big deal about Valentines’ Day. I wondered, why not now? Maybe it’s because when plans for the day were made, something often seemed to interfere.
One year, my wife was away for a week’s workshop held by her employer. Before she returned home on the morning of Valentine’s Day — a Saturday — I planned a nice “welcome back” with Valentine’s Day candy, small but loving gifts, and dinner out. By the time she arrived, however, I had developed a high fever. A visit to the emergency room and several days in the hospital followed.
So much for planning. It wasn’t the best Valentine’s Day either of us ever had.
Speaking of Valentine’s Day hospital visits, I’m reminded of another February decades earlier. Our son, whose due date was in late February, decided in the wee hours of February 13 that it was time. It was a leap year, and I was anticipating a February 29 event. My paternal grandfather was born on February 29 exactly 104 years earlier. While that plan was dashed, it was more important that our son was born healthy with 10 fingers and 10 toes.
As Valentine’s presents go, that’s as good as it gets.
Several weeks back, I decided to change course and plan something special for this Valentine’s Day. Nothing elaborate, you understand, just a quiet afternoon in Riverside Park with a picnic lunch at a table near the playground where our grandson plays when he visits. We’ll enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Pecan Bayou, and maybe even feed the ducks.
It will be a delightful Valentine’s Day indeed. I’m looking forward to it. Before finalizing everything, though, I decided to check the weather forecast for Sunday.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.