Now there’s a big subject. A BIG subject. Valentine’s Day. And people think I know about these things. I’m not so sure I do. I’ve told some of you before, I got off to a rocky start with Valentine’s Day, I was the only girl in 3rd grade who didn’t get a Valentine. It sucked. But I was only 8 then, so at least there was some excuse. And since then, I had one marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day (I accepted, but we actually both had previously accepted dates with other people that night, which we kept. He proposed to me at lunch. And my date that night wasn’t too pleased when I told him I was marrying someone else. Oops!!! Eight of my 9 kids were the result of that marriage proposal, so it was a good one!!)
I have a pretty checkered history with Valentine’s Day, some great years, and some really bad ones. Confident ones when I was married, and knew exactly who my Valentine would be that year (for l7 years in one case, and 8 years in another). And then there have been some real slumps. Relationships seem to be harder to come by these days, at every age. I think somehow Internet has created distance between people, while appearing to bring people (strangers in many cases), closer to each other. And I’m just not convinced that’s true. People are ‘chatting’ with total strangers, hoping to find true love, sending text messages instead of calling someone to hear their voice, and say I love you, or trying internet dating services to find The One. Something about all that suggests to me that people are having one hell of a hard time meeting the right people, although I know several people who met their spouses on the Internet, so clearly it works some of the time. Nothing in life is perfect. But I also think that people have a harder time committing these days. Nobody is sure, and most people are scared. Sensibly, no one wants to get hurt, or disappointed. They don’t marry as young, or have kids as young, they’re not rushing out of college to get married (and make some huge mistake). They’re staying single a lot longer, women make bigger incomes and aren’t necessarily looking for husbands to support them as they used to, and men are a lot more skittish, and maybe rightly so.
There is some real history here. My parents’ generation too often stayed married to people they shouldn’t have married in the first place, and were miserable for years, sometimes an entire lifetime. They didn’t want to get divorced, and staying married for 50 years to someone they didn’t love became some kind of honorable goal. (It doesn’t sound good to me. And my parents were the exception. They got divorced when I was 7, which was considered scandalous then!!). And in reaction to that, my generation, I think, got divorced too easily and sometimes too often. If they were unhappy, they bailed. And subsequent generations look around them, see all the wreckage, remember the bad stories we told about divorce, alimony, custody battles, and they are the generation that suffered for our mistakes, and many don’t want to get married at all. Marriage is not essential to romance. You don’t have to get married if you love someone. I think it should be a natural evolution, not a goal. And lots of people have children these days without getting married. But I think all of these things are signs that romantically, these are hard times. I guess somewhere out there are people who are madly in love, making good decisions, and they will live happily ever after. To be honest, I am jealous of them. I can’t think of anything better than loving someone, being loved back, and being in the right relationship. That is an incredible blessing.
But for those of us who are alone (at the moment—-do NOT give up hope. there are lots of great stories of true love found, unexpectedly, and at every age!!), I think many of us assume that everyone else is in a great relationship and we’re not. And that’s just not the case. Some people really ARE in great relationships, even ones that will last (so take that, you cynics, who think nobody ever gets it right!!! Some really do!!), and other people are in relationships we wouldn’t want on a bet—they just look good from the outside, and we really have no idea what’s going on behind closed doors. And it’s better to be alone than with a bad person, or even the wrong one (or at least that’s what I tell myself on cold nights, but I think it’s true).
So here we are. I don’t know what your Valentine’s Day will look like this year. I hope you get tons of flowers, terrific cards, and a pile of chocolates (your dentist will be thrilled!!), or better yet just one valentine from the person you love, and who loves you just as much. I think Valentine’s Day is absolutely wonderful if you’re in love. If not, you can send friends a bunch of really rude cards, and try to forget what day it is when it comes around. Try to remember that if this Valentine’s Day isn’t a great one, there is an excellent chance that next year will be better, no matter how old you are. It’s not over til it’s over, and as the French say “love has no age”. It can hit you anytime, and does. So don’t give up.
If it’s a great one for you this year, I salute you. If not, take heart, there are plenty of us in the same boat. It’s kind of like a club you may or may not get invited to join—-this year. And nothing feels worse than being left out. I’m afraid that I’m in for a replay of 3rd grade this year, but that’s the way it works sometimes. Look at it this way, you can buy your own box of chocolates and you don’t have to share them with anyone. Keep your chin up……and I still believe in love. Have a great Valentine’s Day, no matter what. I love YOU. Danielle