Sunday Morning ~ Making things better
Kangaonde Kakoma Andi mchere ~ It may be small, but it’s lovely when you add salt.
~ Chewa proverb
February 17, 2019
Valentine’s Day was beautiful. The skies were sunny and the snow was soft and I had a good ski around a favorite loop. I passed a few couples on the trail, none of whom I recognized. I wondered if they were vacationing, celebrating Valentine’s Day in this romantic setting. I wondered if there was an open restaurant in town. I felt a little lonely and I felt bad for feeling that way. I mean, I have a love in my life, but he’s not around and seemed to have forgotten about the day. But that’s not such a big deal. I don’t even know if they have Valentine’s Day in Myanmar. They are just coming off of Chinese New Year. Maybe the day of love doesn’t even exist. And when there isn’t a lot of hype about it, I don’t think of it either. I’ve just been spending way too much time on Facebook lately. That’s a surefire way of feeling left out. But the sun was out and it wasn’t too cold, and I was free and healthy and able to do whenever I wanted so I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t shake the blue feeling.
Whenever I’m feeling down and can’t put my finger on why, I start going through the calendar trying to figure out if the date is triggering some painful memory. Let’s see….February 4th was the day my divorce was final. That used to be a trigger but I sailed right though that one without a hint of sadness, so that wasn’t it. February 14th has had it’s share of bad memories and I went though them to see if one of those were the culprit. There was second grade when we’d spend a week passing out Valentines and I didn’t get any. That seemed a humiliation at the time, so much so, that I made two to give myself. The only envelopes I could find were business ones I took off my father’s desk. They looked a little silly, those a tiny little Valentines that come like a hundred to a box, in a business envelope, but it sufficed. I signed them “from a friend”, tucked the little hearts into the big envelopes, and wrote my name on them. When I got to school I put two of them in the construction-paper-heart folder hanging on the outside of the classroom door. As I recall, each classroom had one of these little Valentine mailboxes hanging there and tiny expressions of love could be hand delivered to any student you wanted. You just walked down the hall and placed your card in the appropriate folder hanging on the door of the classroom of your true love. Each day some kid’s job was to pass out the cards to the students in front of everyone, which I considered a public ritual of humiliation. (Who ever thought that would be a good idea? How many hours of therapy have resulted from that little tradition?) When the kid passing them out got to the large business envelopes with my name on them he said, “Wow, these are huge!” as he read my name. I demurely rose to receive the sentiments and my face was saved. By me. The teacher looked at me and smiled and I felt like she knew I’d given them to myself. I wonder if anyone else did. Now that I think back, it was rather savvy for a seven year old. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone I did that. I started taking care of myself at a tender age. Clever me!
Then there was the year I’d delivered a terribly deformed baby on Valentine’s Day. The baby lived only a few hours and it was incredibly sad. It was expected because of the ultrasound, but very sad and heartbreaking to see the grieving family. On the way home from the hospital I stopped at the candy store and bought little paper bags of candy for my kids. I was crying the whole time, imagining what it must be like to lose a child. Joe and I had planned a romantic evening after the kids went to bed and I was still thinking we could salvage some of that if I got home in time. We’d planned a nice dinner and a movie, Casa Blanca, which I’d never seen. I was so distraught that I went to take a hot bath to calm down while Joe cooked. Cooking was not his strong suit. I’d planned steak (a treat back then), steamed asparagus (also a treat), and some chocolate dessert which I never ended up making. I sat in the tub and cried instead. Joe cooked the steak until it was nearly unchewable and the asparagus until it was one step away from a puree. I pulled myself together to eat the meal but must have made some comment about it and then he was mad. I cried all the way through the movie, not because I thought the movie was sad, but because I was.
I looked up the history of the holiday. Was it really a holiday? Or a hallmark holiday the same as Mother’s Day?
What I found in my quick search was basically we’re celebrating two saints being decapitated on February 14th. How sweet. That calls for chocolate and flowers. The Roman Emperor Claudius executed two men named Valentine during the persecution of christians and they later became saints. There were several more men named Valentine to follow who were executed by subsequent emperors for practicing christianity or performing miracles. Wow, unlucky name. Who knew? I never looked into this before. So that’s where the Saint Valentines come from, but how it became the holiday for love seems a little sketchy if you ask me. One source I read claims it started when Chaucer wrote about birds mating in February. This started a tradition of love letters being sent during bird mating season. Obviously there wasn’t a lot going on and people were bizarrely tuned in to the mating rituals of birds. I wonder if binoculars existed then? Another source sites the pagan rituals of spring where women were paired off with men via a lottery. Actually, I like that one. With that system no one is left out unless there’s one extra. But then it would be just chance, not outright rejection.
I found a Whoopee Pie that had been buried in my freezer for about three years, ate that, painted myself a little heart on a teabag, and thought, yeah, a little salt makes everything better.
Love to all,