Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

            Celebrating Valentine’s Day very different experience if you’ve been married to your sweetie for years rather than just dating. The trick is to shape the Valentine Experience to your partner.

            No matter your age or the length of your marriage, however, many of the traditional Valentine’s themes are still in play:


            Many of the gifts of flowers that men give to women are a form of apology – one that conveniently dodges the difficulty of specifying exactly what it was you said or did that created the need to apologize. Come to think of it, the same is true about flowers given simply out of love: They brush aside the need to talk about your feelings – something most men find difficult.           

            Then there is the problem of the choice of flowers. After a series of grocery store bouquets, Kim let me know that she loves white roses. In my innocence, I did not take this as a criticism of my taste. She was always sincerely grateful.

            She liked to display them after they turned brown, which meant I could buy them on sale, speeding up the process. She always appeared pleased whatever flowers I brought home, but I eventually learned that in this area, as in many others, I need strict guidance.

            So a few days before Valentine’s Day I detoured to the florist downstairs from our condo.

            “Let me get this straight,” I said. “Kim stopped by yesterday and ordered the flowers I’m giving her for Valentine’s Day?”

            “That’s right.”

            “And I’m supposed to pay for them when I pick them up tomorrow?”


            “O.K. I didn’t quite understand how it worked.” It’s important to understand how your relationship works. Kim has a knack for doing things her own way – including writing this sentence.


            Chocolate makes for a good Valentine’s experience because it can get you high. After all, it contains compounds similar to those found in ecstasy, morphine and marijuana, releasing pleasure-generating neurotransmitters like dopamine. (I know this is true because I read it on the internet.)

            Kim hinted that she would like, as a gift, a box of Sees Chocolates – not the usual Nuts and Chews that we get, but something in a cool box like the gold one on page 9.

            The candy surprise arrived a week before Valentine’s Day (saving me $12 on shipping by avoiding the target date). Our goal is to make it last for a week. To help this happen, Kim hid the box – from herself. You can do things like that when you get old. But when you get high you sometimes forget to hide the box.

            Kim made me a chocolate torte for Valentine's Day this year. It works. The onion soup she made also works, even without the drug effect.

Couples Massage

            Lately this has taken the form of rubbing and pressing the muscle spasms out of Kim’s back. If I work it right, I can do this while hugging.


            The Danish concept of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) (thanks, Angie, for the book recommendation – The Little Book of Hygge) includes feelings of comfort, togetherness and well-being. An important component of hygge, in addition to wine and cake, involves candlelight.

            Kim has been practicing hygge for years. We do not celebrate Valentine’s Day with special candlelight because we use candles at most of our dinners. We do this to celebrate. We also do it because we have too many candles and need the drawer and cabinet space for storage.


            We have a bottle of Champagne in the refrigerator. It’s been there since a week before New Year’s Eve. We haven’t opened it yet because we would fall asleep before we finished it, and we don’t want to waste it. We probably won't drink it on Valentine’s Day. We may drink it on the Fourth of July.


            That’s none of your business.


            I write a Valentine poem for Kim every year. I won’t be sharing this year’s poem in this blog because a) it’s private and personal, and b) it has moving parts.

            “But I’m not a poet,” I can hear you protest. Not true. You can be a poet, though you may not be any good at it. Doesn’t matter! Write something, even if it’s lame. A lame effort might have a charm of its own. People are very moved when watching the Special Olympics, so think of it as a similar event for poetry.

            Or you can find one that someone else wrote and, without plagiarizing, claim that it sums up the way you feel. Hallmark cards can do that for you, but it’s better, at least, to take the trouble to find one for yourself.

            The point, to repeat, is to figure out what works for your relationship and to design your Valentine accordingly.

            Here’s a poem I wrote for Kim a few years back:


            “I’ll love you every minute I breathe.”
                                    –Reynolds Price in Blue Calhoun

or so he said   which seems a bit extravagant
for though I love you    deeply as the air I breathe
with Kim inhaled into lungs and blood as I walk
our house and garden   as I daydream your body
taste your food   smell your bleach on my clothes

there are I confess times when I exhale   when I am
not thinking about you at all   just moving rocks
and all I love is the mass and color   grip of my hands
heft of back arms and shoulders   as I lift
or times when my heart is simply driving the car
or deciding whether tonight I should scrub the floor
write my uncle   or learn to use my new computer
pretty ho-hum stuff   compared to “love you every minute
I breathe”
                                     perhaps but
isn’t loving in the exhaling too   knowing
I can be me-loving-you   even when I am completely
myself   being delightfully self-pleased David
thinking about Hamlet or my sons   editing a book
for a friend   looking at mowers in catalogues
eating a banana   stopping for solo coffee
while on an errand   this sometimes annoyingly
inward and incommunicative man   is always
and in all ways your husband   husbanding you
loving the balance   of inhale and exhale
the taking in of all your beauty   your gifts to me
as you bless the world with your touch   and then
freely moving you away in a breath   which only
means a pause   and you again come into my blood
I love you every minute I breathe

If you have ideas or stories about Valentine's Day celebrations, past or present, please share them at dstring@ix.netcom.com.

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