Do you remember those cute Valentine’s day cards that we used to exchange with our classmates in elementary school? I had almost forgotten them, with their cuddly bears or cartoon characters often holding hearts or balloons with friendly sayings in them like, “BE MY VALENTINE!”.
I remember crafting heart envelopes out of colourful construction paper as a sort of desk mailbox for all the cards I would get from the rest of the class. It was probably the last time I really enjoyed Valentine’s day. It was fun to see who I would get a card from and which ones would have my favourite characters on them. As I remember it today, it felt like we were all included as we all got a few cards from our classmates.
Of course, as a person who spent most of my 20’s and 30’s as a singleton, Valentine’s day was just a reminder of my singleness and the notion that being single somehow made me a less important member of society. Having discussed it with my friends over the years I know I’m not the only one who noticed all the subtle messages.
Family members might expect you to volunteer more often to help out with children or older family member support as you have nothing more important to do, co-workers look to you to take holiday shifts because you don’t have the same responsibilities outside of work and news stories reporting losses of life hint at the fact that it’s a little less tragic when the person who died had no dependents or significant other. I was often accused of thinking I was more important than the mom’s I knew as they were basically telling me how unimportant my single life was to them. It was a ridiculous accusation to me as the thought that always ran through my head was, “Man I’m not cut out for motherhood right now. That looks really hard!” But I digress.
I finally embraced my complete lack of interest in Valentine’s day in my mid-thirties and learned to make plans to pamper myself or spend quality time with friends or family and then something happened I never expected. On Valentine’s day 2011 I planned to have a Skype call with a man I had met through online dating and had been talking to since November 2010. He was going to be home on leave from his army service and it was an opportunity for us to speak without the need for him to rush back to his base, which was an hour walk from where he could access the internet.
He had already made it clear how much he cared about me and I knew I had strong feelings about him, but I wasn’t sure if I loved him. When he came online we talked for a few minutes before he asked me if I knew what day it was. With him being from Algeria, I didn’t know if Valentine’s day was celebrated there so I said, “What day is it?” And in his adorable French-Arabic accent he said to me, “It is the day of LOVE and I LOVE you!”
I didn’t admit it to myself at the time, but that was the moment I fell in love with the man who would become my husband. Noreddine won my heart on Valentine’s day of all days!
So here I am four years later, still waiting for the Canadian government to finalize the paperwork to let my husband come to Canada so we can be together once and for all, having new feelings about this pseudo holiday. I’m still not a big fan of Valentine’s day in and of itself, but February 14th has become my pseudo anniversary. It will always be the day I was given the gift to love and be loved.
Love to you today and everyday.