My Most Favorite ValentinePosted: February 14, 2014
Valentine’s Day is here! A day to celebrate love in all its myriad forms: the love of friends, significant others, family, pets, chocolate, romantic comedies, romantic tear-jerkers, chocolate-covered anything, all of the world is in love with love on Valentine’s Day. Your Mrs. Cheryl is no exception.
Having grown up Catholic, I was familiar with Valentine’s Day as not only the day that I brought a homemade mailbox to school and traded cards and candies with my classmates, but a day celebrating the “feast day” of St. Valentine. He was a martyr who was imprisoned for secretly marrying couples in love, as it was forbidden by the ruler at the time. St. Valentine was beheaded, and to this day I think of him whenever I spot sanguinely scarlet shades of Valentine’s Day trappings in the aisles and windows of stores. Though disturbing and jaw-dropping a tale as his was to hear in the single digits of age, I couldn’t help but think how romantic it was. A man so in love with love that he risked life, and in his case head, to bring the sacrament of marriage to those seeking to be bound to their soulmate. I prayed, with St. Valentine in mind, hoping that he was happy in heaven performing oodles of weddings (I imagined hordes of souls lining up with the partner they had been unable to wed in life, but now could in the afterlife: rich couples, peasant couples, couples of all shapes and sizes, all equal and finally allowed to marry!), at last unafraid. I exchanged cards and treats with my loved ones happily, always with a reverent wink to St. Valentine, knowing I was lucky to have the privilege to celebrate love as he had so longed to.
In addition to the Catholic, and then commercial meanings of Valentine’s Day, the holiday holds, for me, a very personal charisma. My folks met at a Valentine’s dance, 45 years ago today. What could have just been a dance between two strangers: became an introduction, led to a date, which blossomed into a romance, that evolved into love, marriage, adventures, travel, family, memories, and endless possibilities that accompany two people meant for each other. A simple meet-cute that preceded a lifetime of love. I ask to hear the story often, and from each of their perspectives. I like that my mama talks about how brazen my dad was (asking her to dance, then later stealing a kiss! Go, Daddy!), as she was rather shy in those days, and my dad talks about his decision to ask her to dance as if he felt compelled by forces beyond his control, drawn in by her beauty and the intangible quality she has that I’ve written of before, but can never quite do justice to as he can, just by the look in his eyes when he speaks of her.
It is because of this story so close to my heart that I really do love Valentine’s Day. I still send cards and dispense treats, still wear red and listen to sappy love ballads, still watch romantic movies, still believe in love everlasting. And my parents I thank for that. That they met on this day, and have remained not only in love, but in partnership and in tune with each other’s feelings and dreams after all these years is to me, the most romantic story of all, and my favorite Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Y’all!