Growing up in a small town which was mainly a logging/paper mill town, it felt like there were three groups of people in my school – the rich, the people pretending to be rich, and the poor. With very little in-between the divide, there was competition made out of everything. Who would have the best clothes and shoes, who would date the best people, who could be the biggest kiss ass to the teachers, who could be in the most clubs, who held the most positions, and who could get the most valentines/biggest flower/ stuffed animal/ balloon gifts delivered to school.
Valentines’ day was a huge day at my school from the time I was in third grade on. I realized there were just some people clearly more loved (Ok let’s remember I was like an 8-YEAR-OLD pretty much the entire time I was in school). As I got older, I began to see the popularity game – the parade of it all. I was not happy with the one balloon or one flower my mom would have sent. I moved from just wanting something delivered to thinking, “Please God, don’t let her send me anything”. I much rather be given something at home. I hated the idea of my single flower or balloon sitting next to 2 dozen roses or a dozen balloons. I do not care for roses to this day. I admit as a 9-11 grader I would help with the organization of the deliveries for Valentine’s Day, and my heart was so bitter. I was not happy for these people. I wondered what some of these people did to deserve so much love. I wondered why my life was so lacking in friends, family, or a steady boy that that would send me something like what I was seeing being sent to others.
At a brief moment in time, I had a “boyfriend”- one that I knew was gay but he just was not sure himself. So, for the betterment of both of us we were dating and Valentine’s Day came around. I begged him no roses, no tiny stuffed animals. Please – if you send me something, a decent sized stuffed animal and a few balloons or just a vase of mixed flowers. Either/or. What he sent me was one rose with a tiny stuffed animal hugging the vase. I am highly embarrassed to say that I was so angry I almost trashed it. It was too late though as too many people had already seen and omg I got teased so much. Thus began my hatred for Valentine’s Day. To me it was a reminder that outside of my grandparents I was just not loved like others were. How silly I was.
Over the years I have had loves that tried to make Valentine’s Day so good that I would forget that I hated it. I admit I have had many wonderful Valentine’s since, but the day itself only holds one sweet memory that was replayed every Valentine’s Day till I was 29. My papaw would wake me up or in later years call me and ask me if I would be his Valentine. I always wake up on Valentine’s Day wishing I could hear his sweet voice again. He loved me so much and life just would not have been the same without that love. I totally credit my sweet papaw for the heart and love I do have. He taught me how to love. Watching him with my nana, and watching him with his congregation forever holds a place in my mind. I try to always love to my fullest extent and it backfires on me at times but mostly it has paid off.
I don’t out and out hate Valentine’s Day any more. My darling fiancé spoils me every year, but more than that he loves me year around. He spoils me daily. Love isn’t about one day and gifts from that day. Love is so much more. Sure, a sentiment of love on a silly holiday is a nice thing but trust me when I say in the long run that is not what matters.