I have read several posts about Valentine's Day from users who are single and unattached this Valentine's Day. Many of the posts follow one of two themes:
1) Valentine's Day is commercialized and we should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by slick advertising, promotions, and guilt trips offered by the Madison Avenue "madmen," or
2) If you are in love, every day should be special so why do you need to celebrate Valentine's Day? Some of these users tell us that they are not bitter about love and they are not jealous. However, it is obvious that they have some resentment about the holiday and its celebration.
These posts remind me of Aesop's extremely short fable about the fox and the grapes:
Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.
The Anglo-American customs associated with Valentine's Day have been practiced for more than two centuries. We send cards, flowers, and confections to the objects of our affection. We treat them to lavish dinner dates and extravagant surprises. We make a big fuss over our sweetie because we have been told it is appropriate to do so on that date, and our sweetie is expecting us to make a fuss.
I have flowers delivered to my sweetie at her place of employment on Valentine's Day or the Friday before Valentine's Day, if February 14 is a Saturday or Sunday. Before the flowers arrive, she is waiting at her desk. She watches other ladies receive flowers and listens as all the ladies go "ooh!" and "ahh!" over the most recently arrived bouquet. She is hoping that I have not forgotten her but also preparing to console herself if necessary, reminding herself that life will go on if she doesn't receive flowers. Then, there is a call from the receptionist. "Miss Ivy, you have a delivery at the front desk!" Hallelujah!
She tries to remain calm as she quickly goes to the reception area. There they are: one dozen long stemmed red roses. She is so happy, so relieved, so thankful that I haven't forgotten. She suppresses a tear of emotional relief and her previous look of concern is replaced with a beaming smile on her face as she carries the flowers back to her desk. She looks at the other ladies and the look on Miss Ivy's face says, "Oh, girls! Look what my man sent me!" The other women look back at her and their grins and nods silently reply, "You're such a lucky girl! You'd better hold on to that man!"
As soon as she returns to her desk, she calls me to tell me that the flowers have arrived, how beautiful they are, and how thoughtful it was for me to remember her on this day. I simply tell her that she deserves to be treated like a queen and that I am glad to have her as my queen.
What's wrong with this story?
Nothing, but if you are single, you are perhaps bitter, maybe disappointed, possibly lonely, and you probably don't want to be reminded of what you missing on this special day. There's no one here for to to pamper and no one to tell you how wonderful you are. That sucks. I understand. I and all the other people out there who have somone special in our lives have had Valentine's Days when we were alone.
At this time two years ago, I had been married for three years. I was head-over-heels in love with my wife. I thought that she was the most noble, idealistic, wonderful woman I had ever met and I was glad that we had been married after about three years of courtship. But then, after five years of us being a happy couple, she made her announcement, "There isn't anyone else, but . . . I've decided that I don't want to be married any more. I want a divorce."
I was devastated. We had some problems which I wanted to work on and resolve and they were problems which could have been solved . . . but her motivations did not lead her in that direction. The dedication which I thought she had promised had been just an illusion, and "forever" was just a euphemism, a hollow word. My world was shattered. Valentine's Day two years ago, I wasn't alone, but it was a very lonely day for me. It was worse than being alone.
Last year, I didn't want to be alone on Valentine's day so I contacted a girlfriend from the past who had moved about fours hours away from me. We had parted on decent terms and, unless she had become attached to someone else, I knew that she would want to see me. I visited her on Valentine's Day weekend but the spark wasn't there. I wasn't alone and I had someone who wanted to be with me, but it wasn't meant to be. It was okay, mediocre, fair to middlin', but there definitely weren't any fireworks.
I am 61 years old. Over the past 40 years, I have been in love five times.
Each of those relationships ended either because my partner was disappointed with me or I was disappointed with her. "I quit!" would be so easy to say, so easy to do. I have endured a significant amount of heartbreak, frustration, disappointment, grief, and cried my share of tears over love lost. What is the point of repeatedly subjecting myself to this torture?
When I now look back on my first love, I feel embarrassed about some of the things that I said and did. I didn't understand love. I didn't understand commitment. I was never unfaithful to any partner but I was not always the best partner that I could have been. I failed my partners and I failed myself, but I gradually made changes, corrected my course, and offered more understanding, more partnership, and more unconditional love.
I didn't say "I quit!" because I am not a hopeless romantic; I am a hopeful romantic. James Taylor is right. "Love's the finest thing around." And I'm not giving up on love, not now, not ever. Eight months ago, I met a wonderful woman - my Miss Ivy. I have fallen in love with her. I cherish her. We have an incredible amount of common interests and we understand each other emotionally and intellectually. I am not eager to rush into another marriage . . . but all of my visions of the future include her.
So, if you think the grapes are all sour, they are not. Perhaps the grapes are out of reach because you need a break from relationships, maybe you need time to "recharge your batteries," maybe you need time for some reflection and introspection, maybe you need your 100,000 mile tune-up. Life has a way of preparing you for what is coming next and you're never too old to find love, so even though you may feel badly now, you need to be getting ready to find your partner because life is not through with you. When you find that special someone - The One - you'll be soaring!