Friday, February 15, 2013

A Change of Heart

I got up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday, or something, because I was feeling quite cynical about the whole Valentine's Day thing. I wished Brett a "Happy Hallmark holiday" at breakfast and even he thought I was being a bit negative and he informed me that he was at least going to tell me "Happy Valentine's Day" despite the fact that we don't exchange cards or anything along those lines, or at least, we haven't done that for quite some time... I don't remember when we quit doing that. Perhaps, when we had kids?

I made a point of telling him not to bother buying me a "crappy teddy bear, flowers that were marked up 300%, or cheap chocolates." He said, "Well, what if I wanted to buy you expensive chocolate?" I conceded, "Well, okay, you can buy me expensive chocolate, but I don't see why you have to do it today. I'd rather you do it because you see it and think of me and not just because you feel like you have to." He seemed to get my point, saying, "So you don't want me to buy it because it's the social convention?" Bingo. I mean, what's romantic about buying something because you feel that you have to? And then there's the fact that the gifts I mentioned are so generic. It doesn't seem very thoughtful to give the most important person in your life something that is so readily available and requires absolutely no thought. He gave up the discussion and headed off to work.

Logan and I dropped Mia off at school and then headed to Kroger. It wasn't our normal grocery day. We had missed that since Mia had been home sick the day before. However, it turned out that a simple trip to the grocery store was just what I needed for an attitude adjustment. It didn't happen immediately. As soon as we parked, I noticed a man walking out the door with his bouquet of tissue-wrapped flowers and my first thought was something sarcastic along the lines of: Sucker! This poor schmuck paid way, way, way too much for that grocery store bouquet. Then, another man came out the door carrying a similar bouquet. Okaaaaay. They're getting their day started by taking care of the purchases first thing, was all I could think. Once we got inside the doors, there was a man holding a card. I couldn't tell what it looked like because he held it so tightly, but it made me smile to realize how important that card was to him. We made our rounds through the produce section and on the way back, I noticed there was now a line-up at the floral counter. I saw that one guy was holding a potted orchid and I silently applauded him for having the sense to get something other than a blah grocery store bouquet that would wilt in a few days time. This again brought a little smile to my face.

As we made our way through the store, aisle by aisle, I noticed more men making similar purchases. There was a man palming a box of assorted chocolates, the cheap ones that I abhor, and it actually made me smile. He, too, was clutching his card tightly, as if his life depended upon the words that someone else had written to describe his love for a special person. But, just when my bah humbug holiday blues were starting to melt, I got into my money-saving coupon mode, debating some cereal purchases with a store employee. (This particular fellow has struck up several conversations with me in the past few months, always when I have my coupons out, and almost always when I am considering cereal, which is one of the few things I stock-pile like a kind of/sort of/not really mad woman. Really, I am normal, okay?) Anyway, the idea of getting good deals made me revert back to my original negative mindset of wondering why these guys were blindly buying junk for their wives and girlfriends, and paying so much more than they needed to on their gifts. Then, along comes the man with the cheesy heart-shaped balloon that says "I Love You" on it, and although I am wondering what he is thinking? to buy something so utterly useless, I feel the muscles of my face actually forming a smile at the ridiculous sight.

This is when it finally starts to dawn on me. I'm actually enjoying watching this scene play out over and over. I find myself thinking, I could spend longer at the store just to watch a bunch of guys pick out gifts for their valentines. And, wouldn't it be really sweet to see them deliver them? I would love to see how the women respond. I assume they will love the gifts, generic though they may be, because hello? I am grinning from ear to ear at the sight of them and I don't even know these fools! So, I'm a big old softie, okay? I have a hopeless romantic side. I just try to mask it with my practicality. Talk about being at war with myself.

After this particular shopping trip, I felt inspired. I changed from my snarky thoughts of Hallmark, Schmallmark to remembering that there is joy in sharing love, even if it means doing silly things. We went home and I whipped up a batch of brownies, (made with good chocolate, of course) which I left to cool while we headed off to Mia's classroom party for some Valentine's Day fun, and I was now certain that it would, indeed, be fun. After we got home, I made a yummy dinner. It was simple, but I knew everyone in the family would enjoy it and that seemed especially important now that I was in the mood to celebrate love. I served spaghetti, semi-homemade cheesy garlic bread, tossed salad, and the brownies, which I had cut into hearts and garnished with fresh strawberries and blueberries. They looked and tasted sweet.

When Brett asked me why I had made heart-shaped brownies for dessert, I told him the simple truth that was now obvious even to dense-headed me: I did it because I wanted to. I didn't do it because I had to do it. I didn't do it because it was a special holiday (well, okay, maybe that factored in a bit). I did it because I love my family and I wanted to show that love the best way that I know how.

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