The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Valentine’s Day now equals tortured tenderness

| February 6, 2014 | 0 Comments
Molinari

Molinari

Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

I really don’t mean to be a bummer, but I just googled Saint Valentine and learned that, not only was he not the patron saint of lovers, Feb. 14th marks the date that he was imprisoned, tortured and beheaded in Rome in 269 A.D.

Real romantic, huh?

Apparently, the Feast of St. Valentine (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day) was not intended to celebrate romantic love until some crusty old 14th century English historians began propagating the legend that Saint Valentine was martyred because he was caught secretly marrying persecuted Christians behind Emperor Claudius’ back.

So, as much as we want to point the finger at the holiday card, candy and floral companies and the rest of the blood-sucking consumer industry, apparently they are not to blame for inventing Valentine’s Day. Regardless, there’s certainly nothing wrong with reserving one day a year to recognize love, right?

As a little kid, Valentine’s Day was a fun affair filled with construction paper hearts, lace doilies, cards imprinted with Ziggy and red heart lollipops with white edible paint.

In high school, the chance of getting a $1 Valentine carnation from a secret admirer was thrilling. My best friend and I, however, sent each other a “secret” carnation, a smart move considering our dating track records.

Valentines

Valentines

It wasn’t until my senior year that I received a Valentine flower from an actual boy, but unfortunately, it was from a kid nicknamed “Goober.”

Mercifully, I was finally able to experience Valentine’s Day bliss after meeting my Navy husband. There is nothing quite like the feeling of true love, and in the early years, we spent hours picking out cards for each other, covering every square millimeter with handwritten words professing how doggone happy we were to have found our soul mates.

And we meant every sappy word of it. Still do.

However, after 20 years of marriage, the mandatory traditions of this manufactured holiday can seem like the torture endured by St. Valentine back in Rome. I know, I know. Buying a card and planning a romantic evening with a loved one shouldn’t be compared to being stoned and beheaded. But, when you’ve got the afternoon carpool, when the minivan is caked with black snow, when you have to get a stool sample for the vet and when the water heater is on the fritz again, then Valentine’s Day can seem more like a day in hell.

Unfortunately, middle-aged couples get so bogged down with the relentless demands of life — teen angst, mortgage payments, slowing metabolisms, routine oil changes, lost retainers, low water pressure, stray chin hairs — that extraneous holidays become just another item on our already unmanageable to do lists.

Despite best intentions Valentine’s Day becomes another thing to add to the “to do” list. (Courtesy Photo)

Despite best intentions Valentine’s Day becomes another thing to add to the “to do” list. (Courtesy Photo)

These days, despite our best intentions, we do a lousy job of taking a day out to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day. My husband hurriedly runs into the 7-11 to grab any old card on his way home from work. Before getting out of the car, he finds a pen between the seats and scribbles a generic sentiment, such as “Love ya bunches, Honey! XOXO,” in large writing, to take up space.

He finds me in the kitchen, frantically trying to feed the kids and dog, while folding the laundry and helping our daughter study for her chemistry test. We exchange a quick kiss and our hastily scribbled cards inside envelopes with still-wet glue.

He rushes to change out of his military uniform, and I spritz on perfume to hide the scent of frozen tater tots. We dole out the requisite bedtime threats to the kids, climb into our dirty minivan and fight the traffic to make our reservation.

At the restaurant, we make our best effort at romance, ordering wine, canoodling and sharing dessert, but thanks to middle-aged fluctuations in blood sugar, we start yawning before the clock strikes nine.

I don’t think this “hurry-up-and-be-romantic-before-I-fall-asleep” routine is what the Pope had in mind when he crowned poor St. Valentine the patron saint of love, but it’s the best we can muster on a weeknight. Besides, even the most tortured schedule should include a little time for tenderness.

(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” at www.themeatandpotatoesoflife.com.)

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