Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Valentine's Day Was Going to Be Different . . .

My fabulous Girls Write Now mentee Meg and I met early this morning for a post Valentine's Day writing extravaganza at Starbucks. I was groggy (despite my grande skim misto) and neither of us had thought about what we were going to write for the Girls Write Now anthology. What should we write this morning?

Looking for a writing prompt, I peered over at another table where I saw the words emblazoned across the paper - "the stars came out for fashion week, whaddaya think, Meg?" Her expression remained neutral. "Okay, how about this then: This Valentine's Day was going to be different . . ." She started writing.

What about me? I could turn fashion week into a science fiction fiasco, which would be fun, or I could write about Valentines Day . . .

This Valentine's Day was going to be different. I had gotten into the rut of making dippy Valentine's cards with my children and buying them some token candy, but I didn't want to do that again this year. My husband knows to buy me flowers the day before V-Day, saving me a ton of anxiety, because I've often felt bitter about the whole thing. It seems to be a have, or a have-not holiday, a popularity contest when you're in school, (who gets the most cards, candygrams, flowers, etcetera) pressure for togetherness.

Freshman year Valentine's Day I was trapped in boarding school with an unrealistic crush on a senior. There was a whole Valentine's assembly where roses were given out. (Other people have written more extensively and better about this ritual, so I won't do that here.) Would I get a rose from my crush? No, I would be crushed.

The there was the time in my early '20's when I started dating a guy in the beginning of February. We liked each other, but we made the mistake of getting together on Valentine's Day. I think it was our third date, and he was courtly enough to bring a rose, but there was way too much pressure to be romantic and talk too prematurely about where things were going. We laughed, but of course we didn't stand a chance. Oh, V-Day, I was foiled again!

And now that I've been with my husband for almost 14 years, married almost 11, there's still all of this pressure to be romantic on a certain day. A set up, for sure.

But Valentine's Day has so much potential, so much richness in symbolism and potential for ritual. I miss it - when I was a practicing Drama Therapist, I would often commemorate every event with ritual. And now that I have kids it would seem that it would be even more important to do that, so when did I stop bringing this kind of reverence to the table?

I talked to my husband about wanting to get my mojo back in this sense and he was fully supportive but suggested that the important thing was to be able to create a sacred space without making too big a deal out of it, so that it would be fun for everybody. (He knows me so well! I can be so - all or nothing, and I need to often find my way to the middle) I thought about what my Wiccan friends do on solstices, I thought about how simple gifts make my kids smile, so I went out late Saturday night to Duane Reade to see what slim pickins there were in the way of gifts. I bought the requisite chocolate and stuffed animal (frogs - perfect, since the kids have four African water frogs)

Sunday morning we had a full house with one of the boys friends sleeping over, and then a playdate coming over for Scarlett. In between those guests, I quickly gathered husband and kids, (not worrying about doing everything perfectly) some candles and other choice items from my interfaith altar, and had each family member choose a direction: North, West, South and East. Cooper started by lighting the candle of the North and asked for the element of earth to be part of our family. Finn (who takes great stock in being a Pisces) lit the Western candle and asked for the element of water, fluidity and creativity, Scarlett took care of the South, fire with fire, and Rob rounded out our circle with Air, the East. Clarity of mind, intention, which was love, and to say one thing we loved about each family member, and then to say one thing we love about ourselves.

It was so quick, but so intimate and meaningful, my heart soared. We don't need a V-Day to remind us that we love each other, but it was awesome nonetheless.

So yes, it was different this year. I took my boys downtown to a benefit concert for Haiti with the Metropolis Orchestra at the very romantic Le Poisson Rouge, and my husband got to spend some quality time with our daughter. And Rob and I stayed up late watching BIG LOVE on HBO, happy to be with each other, and where we are right now.


  1. Oh, thank you for this! I've been wandering around this morning feeling stuck in my own writing and work, and your post was a reminder that I can make this moment different and do a little ritual of my own. Also a reminder that it doesn't have to be three hours long and intricate to be meaningful. Hurray for soaring hearts, hurray for releasing the need to do something "perfectly," hurray for right now!

  2. Hey, next year can we come to your place? We'll bring chocolate. From hmmmm..... Jacque Torres?

  3. Thanks guys! Jen, I was nervous about posting anything with the word "ritual" in it, and you've soothed me!
    Deborah - you are so on! Jacques Torres beats Duane Reade any day!

  4. I still haven't gotten out of that mindset of hating Valentine's Day. However, this year, I went on a major shopping trip. Found an incredible store in Gainesville, and settled on a couple dresses that I didn't need, but that I got anyway. Treating myself, instead of being treated, was rewarding.

    But before that, the man at Krispy Kreme asked me why I was alone, eating donuts on Valentine's Day. All I wanted to know was the price of my three donuts. All he wanted to know was why a cute girl like me didn't have a boyfriend.

  5. Terrific post, Lena, reminding us that love is the lens through which we view the world, and the actions we take within it, not a competition. Well done.

  6. Thanks to everyone for helping my heart to expand!

  7. You have said coming Valentine's Day is different. You have plan for that day which you like to share in this post and i must say that is great plan and your partner must like it very much. I actually want essay writers canada but like to say Best of luck for the implementation of this plan then must share the experience here.

  8. limited wine drinking is good for health. benefits of wine


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