Notes from the Nest
Despite the fact that the wind outside has been blustering and blowing, with storm force strength, and the snow has been falling steadily all day, love is in the air.
Perhaps, it’s the frigid temperatures and the ongoing accumulations of white and flaky precipitation, that makes me want to snuggle up tightly, next to the one I love. Or possibly, it may be the steady reminder in shops, stores, commercials and online that Valentine’s day is right around the corner.
In some circles, Valentine’s Day is considered a Hallmark holiday, a means of preying on love and romance, by big business, to cash in. It seems though, a day dedicated to acknowledging those we love, has in fact been around for centuries. As early as 1,500 A.D., there was a fertility festival celebrated in mid-February and there are several stories associated with martyrdom from the first century, honouring one or more Saint Valentines.
St. Valentine of Rome, in 269 was apparently imprisoned for performing weddings, for soldiers who were forbidden from marrying. Soldiers were thought to perform better, without being hindered by a woman but St. Valentine married some of them anyway. Prior to be executed, he healed the blind daughter, of one of his jailors. Before his death, he wrote her a farewell letter, signed “Your Valentine.” In 400 A.D., Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14 as the day to honour him.
There’s no shortage of famous literary folks who’ve written on this subject. The father of English literature, Chaucer, wrote about it in the 14th Century. “For this was on St. Valentine’s day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” Shakespeare’s Ophelia, speaks of St. Valentine’s day in Hamlet, “And I a maid at your window, to be your Valentine.” In 1794, in a collection of English nursery rhymes, the poem “The rose is red, the violet’s blue, the honey’s sweet and so are you,” was first published. You’d have to live under a rock, if you haven’t received that one, at least once!
By the late 1700s, the first Valentines were being sent in Britain. In 1835, 60,000 Valentines, made of paper, real lace and ribbons were sent. A mere five years later, as postal rates came down, that number jumped to over 400,000. Many of these Valentines, were sent anonymously, so the language became somewhat racier.
It was in the 1840s, that Valentines made their way to North America, where now over one, billion Valentines are sent annually. This makes Valentines day, the fourth most lucrative event, in the retail calendar, behind Christmas, back to school and Mother’s Day.
According to recent statistics, 81 per cent of Canadians plan on marking Valentine’s Day and on average they spend $164 each! Wow! Those must be some pricey cards, they’re sending. Of course, this cash is spent on the usual fare: flowers, chocolates, jewelry, fancy dinners and even couple’s adventures.
I don’t believe that Randy and I spend $164 on Valentine’s Day, even combined. We usually acknowledge it, with a card or a Lindor chocolate or two, but we’re among roughly half of the population, who said their ideal Valentine’s gift, was spending time together. To be more exact, many Canadians prefer a romantic evening, a home-cooked meal and some passionate canoodling, to a gift. The biggest spenders, are those celebrating their first Valentine’s Day as a pair. This fades the longer couples are together. I guess the rest of us, forego the gifts and go directly to the passionate canoodling!
This Feb. 14 will be the 30th Valentine’s Day Randy and I have spent as a couple. Like most others, who’ve been together this long, we realize one single day, a card or some chocolates, doesn’t do justice, to a true, lasting love. Experience has taught us, this kind of love, means getting down in the trenches and digging in, when life gets tough.
It means, spending time listening to the details of each others day and being encouraging and supportive, of each others goals and dreams. It’s working as a team, to raise a family and then together, bravely, letting them go. It’s being partners, sharing responsibilities, to keep things running smoothly and in so doing creating a rich, rewarding life. It’s sharing hopes, cares and lots of loving and laughter.
It’s keeping the wood box full, cleaning the kitty litter, giving haircuts, and keeping dinner warm. It’s laughing at each other’s jokes, even though we’ve heard them all before, reading to each other, doing a crossword or calling during the day, just to say hello. And at the end of an exhausting day, curling up in bed together, like spoons in a drawer.
No doubt about it, when Cupid’s arrow struck us, thirty years ago, we fell hard, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.