A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:
“Every year there are a lot of “my husband/partner gave me X today – he’s/she’s so wonderful!” on Valentine’s day*. And yes, my hubby brought home a dozen roses (and a giant penguin earlier in the week) and while those things are great, he is not a wonderful husband because of them. He’s a wonderful husband because he listens to me, even when he doesn’t care about what I’m saying. He hugs me when I’m sad, even if he has to stop what he’s doing. He wastes his day to take me pokemoning, when he’d rather be playing his video games. He works hard ten plus hours a day, without complaining (more than normal), then comes straight home. He doesn’t blow our money on booze, or drugs, or gambling, he doesn’t get into trouble. He’s monogamous. He’s smart, funny, and most of all, he tries – not just once a year, but 360 days (hey, everyone takes a few days off, right?) And for that, I am very lucky.
*I’m not knocking those posts. I think it’s sweet that the recipients are excited and grateful.”
I read it this morning and couldn’t help thinking of my husband. He really doesn’t do Valentine’s Day, which makes the fact that he brought me home a bouquet of tulips yesterday all the more surprising. Gift-giving on Valentine’s is expected, and he doesn’t like being expected to give me a gift just because society says he should.
When Seymour first explained how he feels about Valentine’s Day, I have to admit that a part of me hoped he was only telling me that so that when it rolled around the following year, I’d be surprised by some lovely romantic gesture. I was surprised, all right, but not in the way I had hoped because true to his word, I got nary a Valentine that year. Or the next year, or the next year. And if I’d still been sixteen, that probably would have upset me.
If I’m being honest, I was disappointed at first. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is every single thing my friend said her husband is, and I love him dearly – but I also love the joy and the romance of Valentine’s Day, and I love sharing that joy with others, especially him. He knows just how to brighten my day when I’m feeling blue. I can’t imagine anyone better suited to putting up with my neuroses and compulsions and bad habits than Seymour (and trust me, there are plenty of neuroses and compulsions and bad habits for him to put up with).
But the more I think about it, the more I’ve come to agree with him.
There seems to be an implication that you don’t truly care about your Valentine if you don’t give them something for Valentine’s Day, and I don’t think that’s right. I know my husband loves me, whether he showers me with gifts like we’re Apu and Manjula or not. It’s not actually about the gifts – it’s about the feeling behind the gifts and, quite frankly, I could feel the love curled up on the couch with Seymour watching Fool’s Gold or The American President far more easily than I could waiting in an endless line at a crowded restaurant.
When a gift is expected, it’s no longer a gift but an obligation, just one more box to check on a never-ending to-do list. That’s not how a gift is supposed to be. A gift is supposed to be an expression of love and good feeling, not something you do because you have to. I’d rather have a husband who shows that he loves me all the time, not just on holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries; who gives me gifts because he wants to and because maybe I’m having a rough day and could use a little pick-me-up, and not because society expects it of him. I’d rather have a husband who knows that it’s not what you spend that makes a gift meaningful, but that the time and effort put into choosing or making a gift matter more than all the money in the world.
Love is in the little things.
It’s about quality, not quantity, and the same goes for Christmas gifts as well. I’d rather have two or three quality gifts that show the giver put a lot of time and thought into selecting something they thought I would love than a whole pile full of junk from Dollar General that’s just going to wind up on my next garage sale.
I hope that, someday, my children will feel similarly about Valentine’s Day. Part of the fun of romance is the spontaneity, the unexpectedness of it all. And if you really love someone, you won’t wait till the middle of February to show them. You’ll find some way, whether large or small, to show them every day.
What about you – do you think I’m way off the mark here? Do you go into a panic if you haven’t given or received anything for Valentine’s Day? Do you agree that love is in the little things? Let’s discuss!
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