There are many different beliefs regarding “Valentine’s Day,” and the most popular one is the celebration of love. When it became commercial; buying boxes of heart shaped chocolates and red roses, is irrelevant. I want to share with my readers why this day is so important to me.
When I was young, every year my father would come home with a box of chocolate for my mother and a beautiful card that she’d tear over. (A bit dramatic for my taste, even as a child, but I wasn’t the one reading the card and at the young age of seven, I didn’t care to.) My father would also buy me a little gift. One year he bought a little heart nick knack and I loved it. I kept it on my dresser and the red clashed with my pink bedroom walls. When my brother got older, he’d buy my mother and me a card and gift. The year he gave us both a porcelain nick knack of a little girl wearing a white dress with long braided blond hair holding a red heart against her chest, I hugged him and had been so thankful. I still have that porcelain girl today. Even at that age, those gifts had more feeling than chocolate or flowers and that’s when the day became special, until it became more so when I met my husband…
Valentine’s weekend, February 14, 1999, my boyfriend drove from Suffolk County Long Island, to Staten Island, New York. We had been dating five-years and he came out every weekend. He always bought me flowers, but this day was different. I always loved a variety of different color roses because they brightened up my room and the perfumed fragrance had been soothing to my senses. That year he bought me a dozen red roses. He said since it was the holiday of love, red was fitting. That made sense. They were beautiful and bloomed within the next day.
Later that evening we went to dinner at Bistro’s restaurant, a table already set. After the host seated us, I noticed my boyfriend’s eyebrows cringe and his feet tap.
“We can’t sit here,” he abruptly said to the host.
“It’s fine,” I said.
“No, we have to move.”
The host moved us to a table for two in the corner, facing the fish tank. It had been better than where we were originally seated; which had been in the middle of the restaurant, and I enjoyed watching the colorful yellow, orange fish swim in circles.
We both ordered chicken dishes. He the chicken parmigiana with penne pasta, and me, chicken marsala with white wine sauce and penne pasta, same sauce. The chicken had been cooked perfectly; I could cut it with my fork. We’re not big on wine so we ordered diet coke. Full from dinner, we just ordered coffee. That’s when it happened.
“Oh, I forgot to give this you back at the house,” he said and handed me a card.
I opened it and two children were encircled in a red heart holding hands, the inside a poem written by his hand. I had been completely dumbfounded that the only part of the poem I remember was the proposal: “Will you be my wife?” He pointed and below sat a black velvet box. I opened it and the most beautiful crystal-clear cut diamond gold ring stared at me. I looked at him teary eyed and said yes. Everyone clapped and wished us well. He then told me the reason why he wanted a different table. It had been because the man at the table next to us was going to propose to his girlfriend.
Once we got home and waited an hour for my mother to hang up the phone with her cousin in Florida, we told my parents the news and celebrated with a bottle of champagne. Unfortunately, since we’re not drinkers we both suffered stomach aches. We were very happy, so we didn’t dwell on our stomach pains. My mother spent the evening and the next day letting everyone in the family know. I don’t recall how many relatives I spoke to. There were many.
Valentine’s Day will always be special. When I come across candied hearts and flowers, I know I have something better. A life with my husband.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
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