My cynic valentine

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It was Feb. 13, 2013, a Wednesday. Nothing like waking up the day before Valentine’s Day to see a rather unromantic note from my lover, published for the world to see in editorial form. News flash: My writer husband hates Valentine’s Day and the inflated prices that go with it. Thus he encouraged other men to oblige its call only begrudgingly.

No honey, you’ll never live it down.

“Happy wife, happy life,” he concluded, stealing a favorite line from a movie. How romantic. I’m delirious with warm fuzzies. Reading that I felt about as cuddly as the couch I nearly made up for him.

Seriously, ladies, before you feel sorry for me, let me defend him. True, there is no gift exchange or floral array chez Patrick on Feb. 14. But I’ll never complain nor advocate for a change, because it’s a different story the rest of the year. Flowers “just because” are routine with this guy (which is so much better).

So there’s the key: It’s not simply that he’s cheap. Actually, I like him that way. It’s that he — like so many men — hates to be told what to do and when.

If your partner seems a little gripey about it, ask yourself how he or she may express caring year-long. Must we insist it happen today, just because it’s socially expected? Should love be a calendar item?

But why is it so awful to set aside a day to express love, you may ask? It isn’t. While commerce has driven the hype, Valentine’s Day has value as a broadened concept — not only for romantic love, but as an excuse and reminder to express expansive love to relatives, friends, and humanity in general. Take a gander at greeting card aisles today and note those designed for daughters, grandkids, and pals. Everyone needs to hear “I love you.”

A broadened approach also lessens the depressing aspect of Valentine’s former restrictiveness, the in-your-face feeling it can give those

single, lonely, or unhappy. Know anyone living alone, at an assisted living facility or nursing home? Widow or widower? Attention today may be especially welcome.

Love means so much more than coupling. Beyond flowers and candy and perfect-looking twenty-somethings, love is giving, sharing, common humanity, brotherhood, unacknowledged considerations. Valentine’s Day can remind us to attend to and celebrate those gifts, year-round.

Our lives and loving moments in all varieties of relationships are preciously limited, so each deserves acknowledgement and appreciation, however and whenever given.

P.S. Love notes are free and last longer.

•••

Sholeh Patrick is a happy wife and columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at sholeh@cdapress.com.

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