*With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many couples, partners, and “friends with benefits” feel the mounting pressure of having to say “I love you” in monetary ways, scrambling for that perfect gift for that special someone in their lives. Given the frenzy, I must ask, “What’s the hoopla over Valentine’s Day?”
To get my answer I went back in time – before the media blitz, long stem roses, diamond rings, pricy greeting cards, cute teddy bears and chocolate truffles – way back to 270 A.D. Historically, the facts on how Valentine’s Day originated are ambiguous. I now know that February has long been the month of Romance. That’s a start to understanding the madness. But how did the yearly celebration come about?
Here’s the story. Legend has it that St. Valentine was a Catholic priest who secretly married young soldiers outlawed from marrying during third century Rome. St. Valentine was sentenced to death for his acts of romantic treason. Before his death, the hopeless romantic sent a love letter to the women he fell in love with while imprisoned, closing the letter with “From Your Valentine.” Sound familiar?
There you have it, folks. We can all thank “St. Valentine,” who died sometime around 270 A.D. for the sums of money we will spend on February 14, 2012.
Yes, I am one of many cynics scratching my head over Valentine’s Day. Of all people, how did I, an author of love and relationship novels, become a Valentine’s Day cynic? Here’s my story.
During my first year of college, when many girls awake to Valentine’s Day, anxiously awaiting that special gift from that special Valentine in their life., I awoke this particular Valentine’s Day to find a banner strung obtrusively across the frame of my dormitory building, with a caption that read something to the effect of, “I love you, — ! Will you be my Valentine? Blah,blah,blah. Love —”
No, the banner was not meant for me, but for my best friend. Not a single girl in the dormitory, coming or going, could miss that banner and many may have felt as I had, green with envy. By midday my Valentine’s Day gift hadn’t arrived. Not one word came from the young man I thought cared about me to the slightest degree. By nightfall my hope waned. It was clear: There would be no Valentine’s Day declaration of love for me. I tucked away my disappointment and hurt and dismissed Valentine’s Day as just another dumb day.
To my surprise and relief, that evening, my Valentine’s Day gift finally arrived. Its packaging was neither obtrusive nor publicized for all eyes to see. It came in a plain white envelope, the simple Valentine’s greeting inside closed with the sweetest, most sentimental note that told me I meant more to him than words could express. I’d like to believe that it took him half the day to decide what to write that accurately expressed his feelings for me.
For years I cherished that card. Nothing could top it, not even the twenty-two years of Valentine’s Day cards that followed, coupled with chocolates, roses, and occasionally diamonds, all gifted to me by that same young man who kept me waiting until the stroke of midnight to declare his love for me. I realize now that I married a man who doesn’t take expressing his love lightly.
You see, some people give on Valentine’s Day because they truly love someone, some give for the sake of giving, some give with trepidation, avoiding greeting cards that say “I love you,” others choose to spare their dollars on Valentine’s Day, instead expressing their love year around. And sadly, too many allow Valentine’s Day to make or break their relationships.
Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be about showy or expensive gifts, nor should the day determine whether or not you are loved or even liked. In honor of St. Valentine, a Valentine’s Day offering should be a sincere act of appreciation for that special someone in your life, no matter how big or small the gesture
I’ll close with this note for the all of the Valentine’s Day cynics and zealots out there – “Love is a senseless act that can’t be intellectualized, analyzed, qualified or quantified. It takes on many shapes, sizes and colors. What looks like love, may not be. What doesn’t, may well be, in its purest form,” quoted from my very first novel, Sense of Love.
I guess, despite being a Valentine’s Day Cynic, I’m somewhat of a hopeless romantic after all.
Sheryl Mallory-Johnson is an author and literary coach. Her latest novel “Love & Regrets,” is available now through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com. For more information, you can visit Sheryl at http://www.sherylmallory-johnson.com.