Happy Valentine's Day! Do you look upon this holiday as an obligation (I must pick up some flowers or at least buy a card) or with anticipation (I get to express my true feelings for my beloved)?
No wrong answers here, just a heart check.
It blesses my heart to know this day of love is rooted in Christianity. St. Valentine, a Roman priest, laid his life on the line for what he believed. He secretly married young couples because he thought it the right thing to do, in God's eyes, contrary to the edict of the emperor who sought to persecute the church.
The consequences were dire for him, but he was heralded for his stance on love. Sound familiar? The ultimate sacrifice of Christ for mankind was ordained of God because of His great love for us. The comparison is not equal, of course, as the latter has eternal consequences (coincidentally this year, Lent begins on the same day as Valentine's Day).
Valentine's Day has become exponentially commercialized in our lifetime, a boon business for florists, restaurants, confectionaries and anyone who sells greeting cards. I harken back to the 1940s when we traded valentines with every one of our classmates, whether we "loved" them that day or not. It added some much-needed excitement in the doldrums of winter, if nothing else.
Treasured keepsakes are the homemade ones, with crude printing of "I love you." Store bought valentines don't seem to be as cute and creative as they used to be but then I just like old things. Remember the ones with moving parts? Being a collector, valentines per se are yet another of my passions; all things ephemera actually. Many are from childhood, others I've purchased just because of their clever and striking graphics. Never one to hide my collections away in boxes or drawers, I display them (under glass on a table top, for instance).
The stages of love are interesting to contemplate, as well as the kinds of love. We use the love word so freely. We love food, we love a sports team, we love a particular movie and we love certain types of music. Our family, parents and siblings receive a special kind of love, and our friends another. As a former probation officer, I've learned how closely related love and hate can be, between spouses, and family — both highly emotional and volatile.
From experience, and I am not a love expert by any stretch of the imagination, I've found that old love is the best. People marry, love is vibrant and lustful. It is difficult to maintain that level of emotion without concerted effort. People get lazy and complacent, angst moves in, focuses change (children, career), some give up and think another partner will be their soulmate.
We'll not delve into the reasons why some marriages become broken, but often commitment is the culprit, not being willing to take the good with the bad. Perseverance wins the day. Old love has gone through all of the ups and downs and survived! My own parents are a prime example of never having lost the spark of romance. Excellent role models for me in that they loved and cared for each other for 69 years! Tenderness in the twilight years is a beautiful thing, and a goal worth reaching for.
Love and be loved, my friends.
LYNNETTE JOHNSON has lived out of state for more than 20 years, but returned home two years ago, settling with her husband in beautiful Marseilles. She can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.