Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day, Romance, and a 20+ year relationship

I don't celebrate Valentine's Day. Honestly--I find it annoying. Now, I'm not a curmudgeon. I love rituals and celebrations, just not ones based on external expectations and obligations.

I also resent the escalation of Valentine's Day. Once upon a time, it was a day to express romantic love. Today, you can find Valentine's Day cards for your grandmother's best friend's sister's cat. (Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little.) And what's up with elementary school Valentine's cards. Oh, how I *dreaded* the little note sent home by the teacher reminding me to bring in cards for every child in the class. Not that I mind the whole fairness/universal thing, it's the whole giving of Valentine's Day cards at school at all. Why *that* particular holiday? The school doesn't do cards/candy for any other holiday. Not even birthdays. What possible reason can second graders have for celebrating St. Valentine's Day?? (Other than the chocolate.)

It's not that I don't believe in romance, either. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm a sucker for sappy TV commercials and little romantic gestures. When hubby brings me a cup of tea while I'm writing, or turns on the heater in the bathroom on a cold night--that's romantic. But a day in which conventional wisdom says red roses, chocolates, and a commercial greeting card equals love? Not for me.

Roses remind me of funerals. If hubby bought me a dozen roses, I'd be worried he wanted to bump me off. Really. Once, years ago, I got a dozen roses delivered to the house. It freaked me out. I was relieved that they weren't from my husband. (They were a gift from a colleague congratulating me on passing my boards.) I like roses on rose bushes, just not cut and plunked in a vase. [Real conversation in our house: "What kind of flowers should I buy?" (hubby) "Not roses." (me)]

I do love chocolate. Dearly, deeply, with a passion that I don't share with any other food. But the thing is, since my last kiddo was born, I've gained a pound or two every year. I've just turned the corner on this and have lost 10 pounds in the last year and change. A box of chocolate would spell sabotage for me right now, so ixnay on the ocolatechay.

Cards are alright. But for the most part, the poetry is *really*, *really* awful. I'm a poet. My tolerance for doggerel is minimal, especially in greeting cards. Giggling as I read a card that hubby may have spent some time choosing is not a good reaction.

And really, after over 25 years as a couple (just shy of 20 of them as a married couple), what is there that I want, material-wise from my husband? Not much. For me, the perfect Valentine's evening is dinner at home, even in full-tumult mode with kids and dog.

So, what has this to do with anything remotely connected to writing? (And honestly, I'd be surprised if you got this far in my personal Valentine's rant) But if you have read through this, a poem. I wrote this for hubby as a Valentine's gift several years ago.

Love Notes of a Backyard Naturalist

The cardinals will not mate
until early spring, but today
I tell you about the pair in our yard.

The male, the color of a child's
valentine against fresh snow, tucks
a single black sunflower seed
inside an orange beak. He swoops

between the base of the feeder
and the hedge that hides his shy wife
to gift her with one morsel at a time.

When the babies hatch, he will feed
them also. February is far too cold
for eggs and she will not construct her nest
until the sun lingers late in the sky.

Like the cardinals, we mate for life.
When the boys are asleep, you crush
fresh berries on my tongue.

--LJCohen, Feb, 2005
(originally published in The Crescent Moon Journal)

I wish you all a happy Valentine's Day, whether you are a curmudgeon (and isn't that a wonderful word! So nice I used it twice) or not. May romance grace your lives.


  1. i share ur views about this "V" day which seems to have turned into some sort of "D" day (doom's day/ death day...) owing to the over-hype of that which seems lost in time. the fact that importance is attached to expression rather than emotions takes away from it.

    i would have to admit that i love the last few lines of your poem most!

  2. i totally share your sentiment on v day... and girl,, that poem.. i swear to go,, that one is perfect... what a loving gift,, and a treasured memory......