I bet you think this is going to be a traditional Valentine’s Day post. In fact, I bet some people aren’t even going to read this post, because they are scared it will be too lovey dovey. Well guess what? I have rarely been considered an overly affectionate person, yet I try to take my relationships seriously. This is a post inspired by a recent article I read from the New York Times called “When Love Outgrows Gift-Giving on Valentine’s Day”.
The Philosopher and I were legally married before our first Valentine’s Day rolled around. Both our dating and married life have been lived on shoestring budgets that have emphasized the things both of us value; exercise, meals with friends, doggies, and family. Maybe that set the pace for a different expectation for gift-giving. While I find it is extremely important to remember and celebrate those you love on their birthdays and at other times of the year, I have always found the idea that the best way to love someone is through the purchase of a gift, challenging. So many times, I find the perfect item for my dear friend, but conventional friendship says I should wait until the appropriate holiday to mail it to them. Often, I find the perfect card, that summarizes the importance of a relationship with my best friend, but I hesitate to buy it–it’s not their birthday for another 4 months!
The Philosopher and I do pretty well at spontaneous gifts. The note left on a pillow or the replacement for a badly worn pair of shoes, often appear when no holiday exists. I find myself challenged to notice the ways that my relationship offers me daily gifts so small that they are easily overlooked.
I have the privilege of living with someone who does dishes. Since I am a messy cook, this rarely goes unnoticed. The Philosopher never seems bored by my loud and endless analysis of class, work, or my future career. I have never had to worry about entertaining a single guest as The Philosopher rarely recalls a party he wasn’t the life of. I am in graduate school because he was willing to change his career path so he could get a job and support me. Rarely a day passes that I fail to see how his dedication to us is the focus of each choice he makes. I am truly fortunate.
I am not so arrogant to pretend our love has reached the intimacy and understanding of those in the article. We have plenty to learn from those souls who have risen and fallen with the waves of life together. But what can we take from this article, this suggestion that gift-giving may not be the point? Is it the time that The Philosopher and I try our hand at offering spontaneous love and support to all those we love? Can I remember the last time I sent a note to my mom reminding her I loved her? Yes, it was her birthday–5 months ago. What about those dear friends I keep meaning to call? Or that neighbor whose offer to meet for dinner I keep forgetting?
Maybe it’s time Valentine’s Day is reclaimed. Maybe Cupid actually meant that we should use February 14 as day to remember that arrows of care should be shot all around, reminding all those we love, all the time, that they are important. That we appreciate them. That their lives are valuable to us. That we need them.
I am going to try. Anyone else willing to step out and jump with me?
In the meantime, if you were looking for a pretty, Valentine-like dinner, try this:
Roast 4-6 small beets in the oven until they are tender and the skins slip off easily.
Saute 1 diced onion in 2T butter and 2T olive oil until tranlucent. Add 1 cup risotto rice and stir together for 2 minutes. Add 1 c vegetable stock, 1/2 t thyme, salt and pepper to taste and stir constantly until absorbed. Add 1 cup of stock and a splash of white wine. Stir until absorbed. Add 1 more cup of stock and stir until absorbed.
Dice beets and add to finished risotto. Add 1/4 c diced feta or salty cheese of choice and stir until well incorporated.
Serve with a fresh salad, if desired. And wine.
Dessert? Fresh baked cookies straight from the oven or local milk chocolate ice cream. The latter involves one pint and two spoons, what do you think? Oh yea, add the cookies to the ice cream!
Enjoy. Trust me. You will enjoy.