Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My First Valentine

Valentine's Day makes me reminiscent. I celebrated Single Awareness Day for 25 years of my life and have only embraced true Valentine's Day for the past three years. That's right, Joey was my very first Valentine. Well, except for my Dad.

Not a super outwardly affectionate guy, my Dad has always been really good at Valentine's Day. Call him St. Valentine - it's his holiday to shine. Since I was a little girl, Dad has always gotten Mom, my sister and I flowers, chocolate and a card. The card has a theme: cats. Cats holding Valentines, real cats, cartoon cats, cats saying 'I love you'. Cats. It's been Dad's theme for at least the 20 years I remember. I guess nothing says I love you like a Valentine's Day Cat Card. These cards followed me into college and came to my house with strange return addresses such as "Merlin B. Snickleman Esquire" or something equally bizarre. That was my Dad's calling card - weird, impossible-to-be-real names.

I may not have ever gotten flowers from anyone else, but Dad always came through to make me feel special and loved. I really appreciate that now.

See, I was a Valentine's Day Cynic. I had two choices: I could pine away on the idea of not having anyone to share the holiday with OR I could try to detest Valentine's Day to the nth degree. Always the mature one, I chose the latter. Oh yes, I dreaded Valentine's Day. All the sappy cards, commercials, etc. I was the ultimate Valentine's Day Hater.

Despite my cynicism, I always looked forward to Valentines from my Dad. There is something foundational about a little girl knowing that she is loved by her father. Something that makes her feel secure. It sticks with her through broken relationships or in the absence of them. It's never been a void left to fill and I have Dad to thank for that. Dad wasn't just giving a Valentine, he was giving me stability and a sense of security.

The day that I realized how much I loved getting Valentine's flowers from my Dad was the day they stopped coming. That was last year, mine and Joey's first Valentine's Day as a married couple. I guess Dad figured that he had passed the baton and now it was my husband's chance to step in.

I absolutely LOVE Joey and love that I get to share these moments with him now. But, I do have to say that he has some pretty big Valentine shoes to fill. After all, how can you top Valentine's Cat Cards?

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