At times I have wondered what (if anything) I may share with my readers about what happened last year on Valentine's Day.
For those of you who have followed my blog, you would know last Valentine's Day was the first for my husband and I. We weren't even "dating" the Valentine's Day before that, and yet found ourselves married by the first time we had a Valentine's Day to share. We first met online at the end of January in 2006; we were just getting to know each other other via emails and had shared one phone call by February 14th that year. At that time, we both agreed that Valentine's Day was the "being alone suckiest" day of all, a time when it is most rubbed in your face that you are alone, if indeed you are.
I remember when I was a child in grade school some very distinct big, pleasant feelings about Valentine's Day. I loved making the little doily Valentines in class and turning heart festooned paper plates into little "mail boxes". The day before Valentine's Day we would all line up our handmade mail boxes along the chalk holder up at the blackboard so that we could bestow upon another sweet little "Be Mine" cards bought at the local five and dime.
I loved the anticipation of how many little cards I would get, who they would be from, what cute little characters would illustrate them, what would the various sentiments be ... how many friends would I have? How would my friends feel about the Valentine's I gave them?
There is one memory of childhood Valentine's that isn't quite so fun to recall. By about third or fourth grade I noticed that some little girls actually got a box of candy placed on their desks by unknown person. I had no idea what made those little treasures arrive at first, but then I starting noticing it was only the very pretty, sort of "perfect", little girls who seemed to receive them. In fifth and sixth grade, when Valentine's Day came, I walked into class hoping against hope that maybe I would get a special treat on my desk. I would walk slowly, not looking at my desk at first because once I looked I would know and if there was nothing there, it would be over. As long as I didn't look I could keep feeling that maybe, just maybe ...
No. Didn't happen. It didn't take away from any of the feeling of joy about the tokens of friendship waiting in my little make-shift mailbox, but it did leave an impression on my mind--right or wrong.
I don't know what I expected, exactly, our first Valentine's Day. I had a general feeling of expectation without any clear concept of what I wanted or what he might do. For many years I had shared Valentine's Day only with my children, my parents, my nieces and nephews, my brothers, sister, their spouses, and my friends. I knew how to do family Valentine's Day, and I knew how to friendship Valentine's Day but honestly, I had no clue how to do couple, married, actually having my own true sweetheart Valentine's Day. I had pretty much no experience with that. Nor did he.
With my vague feeling of anticipation of I knew not what, I made some mention of some surprises I was cooking up for him a day or so before the big "V" day. He made some casual remark about his not doing anything other than a card. Ha ha ha ... I chuckled, for surely he must be kidding. I mean, this was US, the big US ... he is, after all, the "I Live on a Farm" husband, certainly he must have something really, really big and romantic planned ... certainly.
I saw from the look on his face that he wasn't kidding, and he saw from the look on my face that I was something that didn't look quite right. At first I couldn't say anything to him. I felt as if I had been hit by a big vase full of cold water. We were on our way to the church to meet up with a friend and get some things ready for a chicken and biscuit dinner that would take place the following Saturday, so I couldn't really speak with him about how I was feeling because I knew I would start crying and I didn't want to show up at the church with tears all over my face.
When we got back home, I went upstairs to have a good cry alone, in our room, in the dark. It was very sad. Very, very sad.
He came up shortly to try to comfort me. And we sat there, me crying, him with his arm around me wishing he knew what he had done wrong. Very sad, the whole picture.
Fortunately for us both, we excel at communicating with each other--the kind of communication that involves wanting to truly understand the other person and their viewpoint, and placing more value on your regard for that person than on your own viewpoint or "rightness". This was our first emotional crisis: so, we talked.
What I realized, and shared with him, was that we are both pretty much inexperienced dorks when it comes to this kind of thing. He agreed. I didn't feel it was just him or just me, I came to see it was both of us and that we lacked experience, not love. Our love is great, but our experience in being one of two in a couple was itty-bitty at that time. Neither of us had a clue what we needed and wanted from one another on the big famous "love" holiday and we had neglected to talk about it in advance. Big mistake.
I actually believe that is the state of mankind about love in many cases, even when we think we are so cool or so fine or so whatever ... we are, many of us, inexperienced dorks. We are marketed to by Hallmark and FTD and jewelers and chocolate makers with great big giant canons aimed right at our hearts and souls. Much of what we have come to expect or think we expect on Valentine's Day has a lot more to do with those images and feelings conjured by people who want to sell us something rather than anything we have actually figured out on our own.
There I was sitting in the dark crying feeling awkward and bad about love, when what I had right next to me was the dearest man I have ever known with his arm around me anguishing over the pain he seemed to have caused me. And I wasn't alone ... together we would embrace our inner dorks and figure it out.
As it turned out, I did too much for him last year (two batches of cookies, shortbread, candy, a pirate rubber duckie, and a bunch of little dime store Valentines) and he did too little (although, to his credit, the card he gave me was so perfect I ending up not caring so much that he had no flowers or chocolates for me).
My suggestion to the two of us for future reference was that we should openly communicate about our expectations and not take things for granted. I shouldn't expect him to magically "know" what I wanted on Valentine's Day and let him get himself in trouble if he didn't get it right (especially considering my own admission that I didn't really know what I wanted).
Realizing that Valentine's Day is more of a "chick" holiday than something for dudes, I suggested we create a special holiday for him where he could decide what was special and we would keep that holiday each year. As for Valentine's Day, realistically he should always get me flowers and my favorite chocolate candy, but no other gifts are required. For my part, I will only make him one batch of cookies and give him one card.
As for his special "dude" holiday ... he chose Ground Hog day. We created our first Ground Hog Day celebration on February 2 and made a big deal of it. It consisted of a summer barbeque with hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans and lemonade with peach cobbler for dessert (he said nothing is more opposite of winter than peaches). I decided the official Ground Hog's Day wife-to-husband gift should be a flashlight and so he got the latest cool new shine. The day was perfection.
On Valentine's Day he gave me two bags of my favorite chocolates and a large vase with a perfect mixture of flowers of every kind I love.
For the I Live on a Farm husband and wife, the most important aspect of Valentine's Day was center stage each of the Valentine's Days we have shared so far ... communication. Let none of us think you can truly share love with another human being without being able and willing to communicate with one another and figure things out, together as a team.
And what else have I been up to? I have been working very hard to complete paintings for the restaurant in the village and to get all of my patterns ready for print and download. I am happy to report that two days before Valentine's Day we hung two more paintings at Zambistro Restaurant, and then we had a scrumptious dinner there on V-day.
Also to report: I have successfully gotten most of my patterns ready for print and have started selling them wholesale to independent yarn stores as well as selling them directly to readers on my website. There is still quite a bit of work to do, but the process is off to a great start and I am most happy and grateful to have the opportunity. If you think your LYS would be interested in carrying my patterns, please let me know or give them my website address so they can contact me if interested.
Oh, and one more thing. I completed the first sock of a pair of my own design. Nothing fancy, but oh, so warm and cozy. They are made from chunky baby alpaca yarn ... well, so far it is made of that yarn, since I have only finished one sock so far. I will share photos and the pattern after I get the pair completed.
That should keep you busy reading for a few days, so I will end off now. Have a beautiful weekend, and don't forget to accept and love your own inner dork. If you don't, who will?