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Szymanski: Remember, as Valentine’s Day approaches, romance is overrated but love is not

Thanks to Valentine’s Day, the month of February is designated as a month of love. Some say this holiday is all about romance, but I prefer to think of it as a day to celebrate all sorts of love. Maybe that’s because some of my fondest Valentine’s Day memories spring from those long ago elementary school days.

Back in the ’60s, the teachers had each of us write our names on colorful hearts which were pasted onto brown paper lunch bags. The bags were taped to our desk on the day before Valentine’s Day so that, in the morning, other students could drop in cards.

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We were dizzy with excitement. We knew the next day would bring candy hearts from our teacher, the kind with blurry messages imprinted on the front. And there would be cards from our classmates. This we knew for sure because the teacher required that those who did bring cards brought one for every student in the classroom.

How you remember Valentine’s Day likely depends on what year you were born, where you were born and your family’s economic status.

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I don’t ever remember my mom getting flowers or candy on Valentine’s Day. My dad was too busy putting food on the table to think about Valentine’s Day, but Mom snarked away a few dimes to buy us kids some lacey paper doilies and red construction paper. My twin brother and I stood at the dining room table to trace and cut red hearts, gluing them onto those paper-thin doilies. We carefully wrote what we thought were witty messages. We couldn’t afford the store-bought cutout cards that most of the kids would bring to school in the morning, but thanks to my mom, we didn’t go in empty-handed.

Blossom & Basket Boutique proprietor Rene Bonde Shiffler prepares an arrangement in the shop's flower design room as Emily Murphy sweeps clippings from the floor while filling orders for Valentine's Day in Mount Airy Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.
Blossom & Basket Boutique proprietor Rene Bonde Shiffler prepares an arrangement in the shop's flower design room as Emily Murphy sweeps clippings from the floor while filling orders for Valentine's Day in Mount Airy Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019.(Dylan Slagle)

Although we loved the holiday, I am not sure any of us really knew why we celebrated it. As a teen, I learned that Valentine’s Day celebrates the death or burial (which probably occurred around A.D. 270) of a priest named Valentine who served during the third century in Rome. Although, some historians claim the Christian church replaced the original St. Valentine’s feast day (held in mid-February) in an effort to “Christianize” the Roman pagan celebration of Lupercalia. This February ritual was actually a fertility festival dedicated to the Roman god of agriculture and/or to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus. Perhaps that is how romance became a part of this day.

Valentine’s Day — held in the United States every Feb. 14 — is an amazing excuse to buy candy, flowers, cards and gifts. Although some Valentine’s Day naysayers would rather skip this day of love, I notice they are happy to come out of hiding on Feb. 15 to buy up all the discounted candy.

When we were dating, my husband, Dan, made a chicken dinner on Valentine’s Day. It was a simple but delicious dinner and that meant more to me than all the candy and flowers in all the stores in all the world. That’s the kind of gift most women love. My husband’s gifts are always things he does for me, and there are so many. But I’m not sure I have ever seen him cook a thing since that long ago Valentine’s Day!

Because men and women are so different, it is a miracle we ever get together, but somehow, we do. Tim Allen once said, “A guy knows he's in love when he loses interest in his car for a couple of days.”

At least, it seems Allen believes in love. I am not sure Albert Einstein did. Einstein said: “Women marry men hoping they will change. Men marry women hoping they will not. So, each is inevitably disappointed.”

Einstein was brilliant but I can’t agree with that. I think, over time, we learn where to find common ground. After nearly 40 years with Dan, I have no doubt that he is the best friend I’ll ever have.

Searching for a life mate goes well beyond Valentine’s Day. It was Will Ferrell, who said, “Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow internet service to see who they really are.” That would do it!

In 2017, a Forbes Magazine article cited 20 reasons Valentine’s Day might not be so happy. Studies show that this day causes stress, anxiety, unhappiness and even depression in some, especially for singles who long for a relationship.

Romance is overrated. Love and commitment are not. They are the lifeblood of any lasting relationship. So, let’s celebrate love on Valentine’s Day instead of romance. We love our children. We love our family. We love our friends and our classmates, our teachers and our mentors. There are so many people to love in this world and many reasons to celebrate all the loving relationships that surround us.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am hoping that every child in America experiences the same giddy excitement I remember. There should be no disappointment, only candy and cards, smiles and lots of corny lines. After all, “SomeBunny Loves You Beary Much!”

Lois Szymanski writes from Westminster. Her Life & Times column, The Great Big World, appears every first, third and fifth Sunday. Email her at loisszymanski@hotmail.com.

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