Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that brings a lot of mixed emotions; love, excitement, disappointment, loneliness, etc. In grade school, for me, it was primarily the candy holiday, but also the holiday that reminded me that I was shy, unpopular and had very few friends if any. As an adult it was the busiest day of the year in the flower shop, which helped to distract me from the thoughts of loneliness because I never once had a lover to give me a reason to celebrate until I was almost 32 years old. Often I would hangout with my single lady friends and we would commiserate together about how stupid Valentine’s Day is, how it obligates couples to show affection which feels insincere, how it leaves out whole chunks of people who aren’t in relationships and amplifies their insecurities and not to mention how it puts so many expectations on one day that are almost impossible to fulfill. As a florist I have observed men’s floral buying habits and wonder why most men only give flowers on Valentine’s Day…or special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. Those sentiments are nice but a gift given out of obligation says very little.
I’ve been asking myself, “What is the purpose of Valentine’s Day? And how can we redeem that day?” My first thought went back to our premarital counseling. I remember our pastor/best friend saying that marriage gives us the opportunity to become experts on knowing your partner, what they enjoy, what makes them happy or sad, their idiosyncrasies, their hopes and dreams, etc. Being an expert about a subject usually means you are passionate about it but it also means that you took the time for observation, taking notes and put lots of effort into understanding that subject. Do you know what your partner enjoys and what cheers them up or makes their day? Do you regularly do those things for them just because? Or do you only do it on those special days because you feel obligated to do so? If the second is the answer then you will have problems on Valentine’s Day.
A few months ago I realized I was frustrated that my husband didn’t know how to help me feel better when I had a bad day….but I also realized that I didn’t marry a mind reader either. I had an opportunity soon after that to share with him a few things that instantly make my day better. He took notes, I could tell, because a few weeks later I was having an emotional moment and he came home with my favorite flower (a protea) and my favorite pastry from La Provence (a marionberry brioche). I was so touched that he cared enough about me to pay attention and take notes and then went out of his way to make my day better. He also has his own ways of loving me, ways I didn’t realize I needed to be loved. For example, he always comes home with a grin on his face (like a school boy in the presence of his secret crush), he uses his silly voice just for me with pet names and gives me a kiss (happy sigh*). He’s also extremely attentive to house chores, cleans and does maintenance on my car regularly for me and always does the dishes because he appreciates that I enjoy making him dinner. Best of all, he’s the best at writing letters and signing cards and giving me all the feels when I read them. When a special day rolls around we have zero expectations for that day because we show each other everyday that we love each other by our actions and paying attention to what the other person loves or needs.
By the way, guys, most women I’ve met don’t actually like a dozen roses. Almost across the board women like mixed bouquets, especially in their favorite colors or with some of their favorite flowers tucked in. I’m always impressed when men have been paying attention and come in with very specific requests because they know what their woman loves. Just a little tidbit I’ve observed from 10 years in the business. 😉
In recent years flower shops have been struggling to survive because our culture doesn’t appreciate flower gift giving as much as previous generations. Flowers are expensive and they don’t last long…..but they have the power to say so much, to convey emotions and can fill the gap when words are at a loss. You don’t need very many flowers to do that. A single flower can say almost as much as a big bouquet, sometimes more. My favorite flower, the protea, usually starts around $6 a stem but can last for weeks. Personally I would prefer that over a box of chocolates any day. Looking at that flower everyday reminds me that I have someone in my life that cares deeply for me and life is worth living well. It just makes me smile. In a world and culture of too much stuff, consider showing love with regular gifts of flowers. My dad is the best at this. He has always been good about randomly and regularly stopping on his way home from work to pick up flowers for my mom. That expression of love has inspired my whole life.
How then should we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Well, if you are in a relationship, consider asking yourself how you can love on them better today. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day. Start creating better habits of showing appreciation today. Also, think about those you love who don’t have someone in their life. Think about ways you can show them how much you appreciate them. I had some friends do that one year on Valentine’s Day. They secretly, through my boss, ordered flowers for me. I was floored. I can’t even describe to you how much that meant.
I believe love is the most powerful and most underused tool we have at our disposal. It inspires, motivates, satisfies, brings joy, completes us and makes our lives worth living. Don’t mind me, I will just be over here reevaluating my life and finding more ways to love on my people.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7
Photo credit: Two Stone Photography
Models: Sara and Mateo Strang