Two people walking down a path with horses in the background.

Old Love


A person sitting on the ground in front of water.Valentines Day.

Decadent  chocolates, diamond bracelets, elaborate valentines cards.    Young  lovers gazing  into each other’s eyes, dreaming of the perfect  love.

A beautiful reminder that in a troubled world, that somehow, somewhere, there is always  love.

But these images offer only  a shallow glimpse of  love. Oddly,  we  equate love with young love, with “being in love,”  while overlooking A person sitting on the ground in front of water.the most beautiful love of all, that of old love.  This  is not  the exhilarating  flush of new love.  It is  the  flame that flickers in the furious storm, yet  leaps to warm the trembling heart.

Old love has seen  glory and brokenness,  trust and  betrayal.  It has known exhilaration and endured  tedium. It has yielded to  the warm A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
embrace and recoiled at the jagged  word.  Through it all, it was always  love that  soothed  the chafing of the marital yoke.

The beauty of old love is not that of  the unfurling rosebud.A person sitting on the ground in front of water. Like the facets of a diamond, this love  is  patiently sculpted and A person sitting on the ground in front of water.refined over years.  It is  nurtured by the  light of understanding but  withers in the darkness of anger.  It  flourishes  on the rock of trust and crumbles on the shaky sands of deceit.

And old love is not  merely  finishing the race side by side.  Such is A person sitting on the ground in front of water.only a sad counterfeit born of pride, cowardice or simple inertia.  It is  a lifetime of  shared experiences, comfortable perhaps, but bereft of  joy.  The  heart well knows the difference.

Old love is longing for the other and yet  straining against the marital tether.  It is knowing everything yet A person sitting on the ground in front of water.nothing about the other.  It is  melding into the other yet retaining oneself.  It is  freely sharing,  families, children, sickness, possessions; all of  it, all of life.   It is unrelenting challenge; it is warm fulfillment.   It is at  once exhilarating and terrifying,

So to all  young lovers this Valentine’s Day:  Join  us if you will.  But know this:   Old love must be earned.  It will test your  strength and challenge your resolve. It will require your best and forgive your worst.   It will plumb your depths and expand your soul.  And  the rewards are beyond imagination for those who  stay the course.  A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

This blog is dedicated to my “old love” of 40 years.  Happy Valentines Day, Sweetheart. 

 

A girl sitting on the floor surrounded by many cards

Valentines Remembered


“Look at all MY Valentimes!  (That’s what she called them, “Valentimes.”)  She opened her little heart-shaped box made specially to hold them to reveal her huge stash of sparkling red and white cards. “How many did YOU get?” she chimed, smiling sweetly.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Pretty Girl, Cheryl Hicks

I didn’t need anything to carry my valentines in. I may have gotten a dozen or so, if you count the mercy ones from my gramma and my cousins. Mortified, I could hardly wait for the whole thing to be over. But unfortunately for the next 11 years of my life, on February 14, this painful ritual would an annual ordeal.  Keeping score became less obvious, but not less brutal, when we reached high school. And if you grew up in a small town as I did, you will know that the little people you hid from in first grade followed you all the way to graduation. So as the Senior Valentine’s Day Dance approached, my little nemesis, now blossomed into a teenage version of her adorable six- year old self, had another embarrassing question.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Musings from the Silent Generation

“Who’s taking YOU to the Valentine’s Ball?” My only hope for an escort, as she well knew, was my younger cousin whom I could have bullied into going, but he danced as though he were shoveling hay. I stayed home.

Valentines Day can be brutal. And not just for kids. What’s more, it is no longer confined to a day; it lasts at least a month. This year valentines were on the shelves December 26! And until February 15, we will be badgered by advertisers trying to convince men that they will be permanently branded uncivilized jerks if they do not spring for  jewelry and chocolate. Not just chocolate, but EXPENSIVE chocolate.  A Whitman’s Sampler from Walgreens is not going to do it.   AND jewelry from the “right” kind of jewelry store.  But, just to make things easy,  you can purchase your jewelry embedded in a box of chocolate— in the shape of a valentine.   Ladies, in turn, are harassed by weight loss plans, fitness gurus and boutiques to shed those last shameful pounds so they can fit into that “little red dress” they need to show off their expensive jewelry at the Valentine’s Day galas. I have no idea who eats the chocolate.

I don’t think this is what St. Valentine had in mind. I am pretty sure he would be appalled to find his name associated with little red and white cards and boxes of chocolate given that his sainthood came at the expense of being stoned to death!  No one seems to know exactly how this distorted imagery evolved. But once the greeting card companies came along, well..you know the rest. And not only greeting cards; a search for “Valentines” on Amazon will bring up over two million items for your shopping pleasure, including a four-foot teddy bear.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Vintage Valentine’s Day Postcard, Creative Commons

I don’t remember  Cupid in my first Valentines Day experiences.  Since we were a  fundamentalist Protestant community, our primary schools were not known for their expertise in Roman mythology. And I suspect the teachers considered Cupid’s garb just a little risqué for our six year old eyes. Nevertheless, Cupid has been around since the 1800s. History seems to have treated him more fairly than it did St. Valentine. Son of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, Cupid is usually portrayed as a scantily clad, if at all, chubby little boy with a bow and a quiver of arrows, poised to shoot his victims, thereby infusing them with an overwhelming desire for a lover. So while the imagery has remained more or less intact, the concept seems a bit off for our modern taste. I don’t think romance would be my first reaction to having been impaled on an arrow. Perhaps this is the real reason Cupid never came up in those early Valentine Days. How on earth do you explain this to a first grader? But if his reputation has remained pretty much intact, Cupid, like St. Valentine, has not escaped commercialization. There is a Cupid dating service, there are Cupid cocktails, Cupid sunglasses, Cupid dog collars. There is a Zombie Cupid, a Spongebob Cupid, and my personal favorite, the Cheese Cupid.

But in spite of it all, I do celebrate Valentine’s Day — in a minimalist sort of way. My husband and I exchange cards, but when the prices hit $6, we started reusing them. We send cards to the grandchildren, even though I’m pretty sure the older ones discard them immediately after pocketing the money. We do not buy chocolate, and especially not from jewelry stores. And we NEVER go to Valentines Day galas. We have had our fill of surfing parking lots, standing in lines, and eating tepid banquet food. We open our dog-eared, recycled cards and watch a movie. It’s wonderful. The days of competing for Valentines Day chocolate, jewelry, and escorts are gone forever.

Meanwhile, back in First Grade, the Valentines Games continue.  And now social media has been added to the mix.  My mind boggles at the thought of my little tormenter, her smartphone at the ready, armed with the information of my valentine deficiencies. So  little psyches are once again bruised and little princesses dream of becoming Queen of the Valentines Day Ball.

I’ll keep sending cards to the grandkids, especially the little ones, just in case.

Photography from Flickr Creative Commons.  Pretty Girl: Cheryl Hicks, Musings from the Silent Generation:  leakytr8;  Vintage Valentines Postcard: riptheskull.

 

A girl sitting on the floor surrounded by many cards

Valentines Games


“Look at all MY Valentimes!  (That’s what she called them, “Valentimes.”)  She opened her little heart-shaped box made specially to hold them to reveal her huge stash of sparkling red and white cards. “How many did YOU get?” she chimed, smiling sweetly.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Pretty Girl, Cheryl Hicks

I didn’t need anything to carry my valentines in. I may have gotten a dozen or so, if you count the mercy ones from my gramma and my cousins. Mortified, I could hardly wait for the whole thing to be over. But unfortunately for the next 11 years of my life, on February 14, this painful ritual would an annual ordeal.  Keeping score became less obvious, but not less brutal, when we reached high school. And if you grew up in a small town as I did, you will know that the little people you hid from in first grade followed you all the way to graduation. So as the Senior Valentine’s Day Dance approached, my little nemesis, now blossomed into a teenage version of her adorable six- year old self, had another embarrassing question.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Musings from the Silent Generation

“Who’s taking YOU to the Valentine’s Ball?” My only hope for an escort, as she well knew, was my younger cousin whom I could have bullied into going, but he danced as though he were shoveling hay. I stayed home.

Valentines Day can be brutal. And not just for kids. What’s more, it is no longer confined to a day; it lasts at least a month. This year valentines were on the shelves December 26! And until February 15, we will be badgered by advertisers trying to convince men that they will be permanently branded uncivilized jerks if they do not spring for  jewelry and chocolate. Not just chocolate, but EXPENSIVE chocolate.  A Whitman’s Sampler from Walgreens is not going to do it.   AND jewelry from the “right” kind of jewelry store.  But, just to make things easy,  you can purchase your jewelry embedded in a box of chocolate— in the shape of a valentine.   Ladies, in turn, are harassed by weight loss plans, fitness gurus and boutiques to shed those last shameful pounds so they can fit into that “little red dress” they need to show off their expensive jewelry at the Valentine’s Day galas. I have no idea who eats the chocolate.

I don’t think this is what St. Valentine had in mind. I am pretty sure he would be appalled to find his name associated with little red and white cards and boxes of chocolate given that his sainthood came at the expense of being stoned to death!  No one seems to know exactly how this distorted imagery evolved. But once the greeting card companies came along, well..you know the rest. And not only greeting cards; a search for “Valentines” on Amazon will bring up over two million items for your shopping pleasure, including a four-foot teddy bear.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.
Vintage Valentine’s Day Postcard, Creative Commons

I don’t remember  Cupid in my first Valentines Day experiences.  Since we were a  fundamentalist Protestant community, our primary schools were not known for their expertise in Roman mythology. And I suspect the teachers considered Cupid’s garb just a little risqué for our six year old eyes. Nevertheless, Cupid has been around since the 1800s. History seems to have treated him more fairly than it did St. Valentine. Son of Venus, Roman Goddess of Love, Cupid is usually portrayed as a scantily clad, if at all, chubby little boy with a bow and a quiver of arrows, poised to shoot his victims, thereby infusing them with an overwhelming desire for a lover. So while the imagery has remained more or less intact, the concept seems a bit off for our modern taste. I don’t think romance would be my first reaction to having been impaled on an arrow. Perhaps this is the real reason Cupid never came up in those early Valentine Days. How on earth do you explain this to a first grader? But if his reputation has remained pretty much intact, Cupid, like St. Valentine, has not escaped commercialization. There is a Cupid dating service, there are Cupid cocktails, Cupid sunglasses, Cupid dog collars. There is a Zombie Cupid, a Spongebob Cupid, and my personal favorite, the Cheese Cupid.

But in spite of it all, I do celebrate Valentine’s Day — in a minimalist sort of way. My husband and I exchange cards, but when the prices hit $6, we started reusing them. We send cards to the grandchildren, even though I’m pretty sure the older ones discard them immediately after pocketing the money. We do not buy chocolate, and especially not from jewelry stores. And we NEVER go to Valentines Day galas. We have had our fill of surfing parking lots, standing in lines, and eating tepid banquet food. We open our dog-eared, recycled cards and watch a movie. It’s wonderful. The days of competing for Valentines Day chocolate, jewelry, and escorts are gone forever.

Meanwhile, back in First Grade, the Valentines Games continue.  And now social media has been added to the mix.  My mind boggles at the thought of my little tormenter, her smartphone at the ready, armed with the information of my valentine deficiencies. So  little psyches are once again bruised and little princesses dream of becoming Queen of the Valentines Day Ball.

I’ll keep sending cards to the grandkids, especially the little ones, just in case.

Photography from Flickr Creative Commons.  Pretty Girl: Cheryl Hicks, Musings from the Silent Generation:  leakytr8;  Vintage Valentines Postcard: riptheskull.

 

Valentimes


A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

  “I got FIFTY FOUR Valentimes! 

 That’s what we called them, “Valentimes.”

 I still remember the  heart-shaped box she carried made specially to hold them. 

  “How many  did YOU get?” she chimed, smiling sweetly.  

I didn’t need anything to carry my valentines in.  I may have gotten a dozen or so, if you count the mercy ones from my gramma and my cousins.  Mortified, I could hardly wait for the whole thing to be over.  Unfortunately what  I did not know at the time was that for or the next 11 years of my life, on February 14,  this painful ritual would be repeated.  Keeping score became less obvious, but not less brutal,  when we reached high school.  And if you grew up in a small town as I did, you will know that the little people you hid from in first grade followed you all the way to Graduation.   So as the Senior Valentine’s Day Dance approached, my little nemesis,  now blossomed into a teenage version of her adorable six- year old self,  had a grown-up question,

“Who’s taking YOU to the Valentine’s Ball?”  My only hope for an escort, as she well knew, was my younger cousin whom I could have bullied into going,  but he danced as though he were shoveling hay.   I  stayed home.

 Valentines Day can be brutal.  And not just for kids.  What’s more, it is no longer confined to a day; it lasts at least a month.  This year valentines were on the shelves December 26!  And until February 15,  we will be badgered by advertisers trying to convince men that they will be permanently branded uncivilized jerks if they do not wow their Lady Love with jewelry and chocolate.  And not just any jewelry and chocolate, but EXPENSIVE jewelry and chocolate,  AND jewelry from the “right” kind of jewelry store.   Neither are Samplers from the drugstore or last minute grocery store roses going to do it.  One jewelry store  solves the problem with a one-stop-shop.  You can purchase your jewelry embedded in a box of chocolate— in the shape of a valentine.   Of course.   Ladies, in turn,  are harassed by weight loss plans, fitness gurus and boutiques to shed those last shameful pounds so they can fit into that “little red dress” they need to show off their expensive jewelry at the Valentine’s Day galas.  I have no idea who eats the chocolate.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.I don’t think this is what St. Valentine had in mind.  The details of his life are obscure, but I am pretty sure he did not achieve sainthood by handing around little cards with hearts on them.   In fact since he was a Priest (or Bishop, depending on the source you prefer),  I expect he would be appalled to find his name  associated with little red and white cards and boxes of chocolate and not the Christian faith for which he was stoned!    No one seems to know exactly how this distorted imagery evolved.  But once the greeting card companies came along, well..you know the rest.   And to be fair, greeting cards are not alone; a search for “Valentines” on Amazon will bring up over two million items, among which you may browse for your shopping convenience.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

I don’t remember much about Cupid in those early Valentines Days.  For one thing, since we were a predominantly fundamentalist Protestant community, our primary schools were not known for their expertise in Roman mythology.  And I suspect the teachers considered Cupid’s garb just a little risqué for our six year old eyes.  Nevertheless, Cupid has been around since the 1800s.  History seems to have treated him more fairly than it did St. Valentine.  Son of Venus,  Roman Goddess of Love, Cupid is usually portrayed as a chubby little boy with a bow and a quiver of arrows, poised to shoot his victims,  thereby infusing them with an overwhelming desire for a lover.  So while the imagery has remained more or less intact, the concept seems a bit off for our modern taste.  I don’t think romance would be my first reaction to having been impaled on an arrow.  Perhaps this is the real reason Cupid never came up in those early Valentine Days.  How on earth do you explain this to a first grader?  But if  his reputation has remained pretty much intact,  Cupid, like St. Valentine, has not escaped commercialization.  There is a Cupid dating service,  there are Cupid cocktails,  Cupid sunglasses, Cupid dog collars.  There is a Zombie Cupid, a Spongebob Cupid, and my personal favorite, the Cheese Cupid.

A person sitting on the ground in front of water.

But in spite of it all,  I  do celebrate Valentine’s Day —  in a minimalist sort of way.  My husband and I exchange cards, but when the prices hit $6, we seriously considered recycling them every year.  We send cards to the grandchildren, even though the older ones probably discard them after pocketing the money.  We do not buy chocolate, and especially not from jewelry stores. And we NEVER go to Valentines Day galas.  We have had our fill of surfing parking lots, standing in lines,  and eating tepid banquet food.    We open our cards and watch a movie.  It’s wonderful.  And the days of competing for Valentines Day chocolate,  jewelry, and escorts are gone forever.

Meanwhile, back in First Grade, the Valentines Games probably  still go on, human nature being what it is.   Since we live in kinder, gentler times now,  hopefully the ritual has become kinder and gentler as well.  But we didn’t have social media to deal with.  My mind boggles at the thought of my little tormenter, her cell phone at the ready, armed with the information of my valentine deficiencies.   So  I suspect little psyches are once again bruised and little prom queens set into motion in the quest to win the Valentine Games.   I’ll keep sending cards to the little ones,  just in case.