FOR as long as I can remember, every Valentine’s Day my Dad gave my Mam a bunch of flowers and a card signed ‘Love from, Guess Who?’
He’d secret both somewhere around the house when she wasn’t looking and wait for her to find them, teasing her about her secret admirer. It started as a joke, something to amuse her and us and then became a tradition, something he did every single year without fail.
Even his last year, three days before he died, he managed to scrawl a card for her and share the joke.
That last Valentine’s Day card is as precious to my Mam as the most expensive diamond – it is irreplaceable.
The past two Valentine’s Days have been bittersweet, coming just days before his anniversary and reminding us of that last card, that last joke, that last symbol of a lifetime of love and fidelity.
But there are dozens of happy memories of other Valentine’s Days too and for me, the way my parents always celebrated the day, has served as a great example of what it’s all about.
It’s not just about presents or cards or expensive trinkets. It’s not about conforming or buying something for a lover because you have to or it’s expected of you.
People often say that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, something invented to get us to spend yet more money on things we don’t need and to a certain extent, they’re right.
But for me, and for my parents, Valentine’s Day is about taking a moment out of your busy life to remind yourself how much you love this other person. It’s about taking a breath. It’s about reconnecting.
Yes, we should all be telling each other we love one another, every day of the week. We should be whisking our lovers off for romantic weekends all year round. Special breakfasts should be made on any oul rainy Saturday, not just on Valentine’s Day. All of that is true.
The reality however, is that when you are bogged down in life – in your job, the bills, the kids – it often simply just doesn’t happen. It doesn’t.
You love one another, of course you do. But finding the time and taking the time to demonstrate it, can often be hard.
And for me, that’s where Valentine’s Day comes in and has its place. It’s simply a reminder, a little nudge for us to show our appreciation for each other.
Valentine’s Day is only as expensive and as commercial as you make it. For me it’s about love and reconnecting with those I love, and what’s wrong with that?