Pieces of My Heart and Random Valentine's Day Thoughts

There are few things so lonely feeling as when everyone else seems to be celebrating a holiday and you are not... That first Father's Day after my dad died was exceptionally sad.  I tried to tune it out, but I felt as if I were the only 13 year-old girl around without a father.

Valentine's Day seems to be a holiday of expectations.  Culturally we feel obligated to be part of a couple on this day.  I think about all the people out there who are in between relationships, in bad relationships, or who may have a partner but only in memory.

Years ago, when I was still in school, I worked the costume jewelry counter at JC Penney.  It was a pretty sucky, mind-numbing job and didn't last too long; but I remember the days leading up to Valentine's Day, the rush of last-minute guys shopping for wives and girlfriends.  They certainly weren't the big spenders; we didn't have anything over let's say $50. (We were right across the aisle from the fine jewelry counter -- and they looked their noses down at us.)  I also remember the day after Valentine's when those guys brought the gifts back.  One unlucky guy (his date just didn't work out), returned the necklace he'd bought for her and then asked ME out.  Now, one would think I'd have the judgment to say no, but since I didn't have a Valentine that year, I guess I got caught up in the hype (even though it was the day after).  We went out, once... I really should have known better.

Anyway, to me, Valentine's Day isn't so much about being part of a couple, it's remembering the people in my life whom I love.  Husband totally has my heart for sure, but there are so many kinds of love -- the love of my Mom, my Mother-in-law, sisters, brother, friends, and my son.

When I was a little girl, my mom brought home some red foil-wrapped chocolate hearts, and this simple act made me so happy.  This little act showed that my mom loved us; that Valentine's Day wasn't just about romantic love.

A few years ago, when Charlie was about five, our priest (who was in between relationships) casually mentioned in church one Sunday that he'd really appreciate some Valentines.  We made him one, complete with pictures and heart doilies, and that became the first of many cards we made for the special people in our lives.  This is now a happy tradition for me.

Favorite movie for Valentine's Day:  "Love, Actually."  This is a wonderful homage to love in all of its forms, not just romantic.  It will make you cry, but it's such a good movie.  The end is spectacular.  (This is not a movie for those under, um, 16 years old due to some very funny but adult-themed scenes.)

Chocolate or flowers?  I'm a chocolate gal definitely (but not the Brachs cream-filled yucky ones.  At the very least Hersheys.  Better yet, See's California mix.)

Flowers are fine, but the pragmatist in me thinks 1 dozen long-stemmed roses at 75 bucks would buy a few bags of groceries.  A $5 bouquet from Trader Joe's suits me just fine.

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you out there who own a piece of my heart.


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