The Making of the Cynic
The year after I graduated high school, I went to work at a florist. I loved working with the flowers, taking care of the plants, and helping customers pick out just the right arrangements. Occasionally I was even allowed to arrange bud vases and make corsages.
Then February happened. The phones rang non-stop. We hired extra delivery staff. We ordered obscene amounts of roses - which I had to cut the thorns off of, remove the outer petals, cut the bottom of the stems, and put in the right temperature water with Rose Food. The back room exploded in Baby's Breath. The shop area filled with Mylar balloons shaped like hearts and bearing fun or romantic messages.
On Valentine's Day, the delivery drivers got in at 0-dark-thirty. They had that look on their faces - the stoic resolve of someone gearing up for a day of pure hell. Then the shop opened, and we didn't stop moving until it closed that night.
I was not new to full-speed-all-day. I spent many holiday seasons working at a bakery, and almost nothing is more crazy than a bakery the day before Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. And then there was Fat Tuesday when, in addition to getting out over a hundred dozen Kinklings, there was the bonus of tons of powdered sugar floating in the air.
My love for the bakery-day holidays did not diminish despite the rush of the days leading up to them. But by the end of that February 14th at the florist, I hated Valentine's Day. Why?
Because very few people seemed genuinely excited to celebrate love.
There was so much griping and moaning among the men coming in to buy flowers for that special someone, it astounded me. They'd toss laments back and forth to each other.
"If I don't bring something home, she'll kill me."
"She has to have two dozen roses or she'll think I'm cheap."
"If I get carnations, she won't speak to me for a week."
Yes, they did say these things! Most of the day, I got lots of complaints about the price of the flowers. At the end of the day, the stragglers were bidding on the last dozen roses, and muttering about it the whole time.
So by the time we flipped the closed sign, my romance with Valentine's Day was over and I haven't celebrated it since.
My husband and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day, but we do like to go to the Valentine's Day dinner our church has every year. It's a nice opportunity to get out, eat great food, and spend some time with wonderful couples we know. Our pastor always says a few words, and this year what he said flipped something inside me.
I can't remember what it was exactly. But this is what I took away:
The Christian life revolves around love. And I'm not talking about touchy feely romancy kissy sissy love. I'm talking real love. The gospel in two sentences: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Love that sacrifices everything. Marital love, which is a picture of the relationship of Christ to his church. 1Corinthians kind of love, which is selfless action and truth. And I thought...
Love does deserve its own holiday.
I haven't stopped celebrating Christmas just because it has become overblown with commercialism, Santa Claus, and creepy Elves on Shelves. So I don't need to shun Valentine's Day just because it has gone from being the celebration of St. Valentine (who, legend has it, married couples in secret when the law of the land forbid them to marry) to overpriced flowers, grumpy guys, and hard-to-please women.
I've been married almost 18 years, but this will be the first Valentine's Day my husband and I have acknowledged. We don't really know what our Valentine's Day traditions will become. What we know is that we will celebrate the love we have for each other and that the Lord has for us. We will honor real love, for love's sake, not Hallmark's sake.
So today I made my first attempt at a Valentine's gift. I bought my husband a bar of dark chocolate with bacon. That's a start, right?
Happy Valentine's Day to all those out there who are celebrating true love this year! And, remember:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... Now these three remain: Faith, Hope, and Love. But the greatest of these is Love."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13