I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now, before you start making assumptions, let me clear a few things up. I don’t *not* celebrate Valentine’s Day for lack of a willing and able other half. Even when I wore my hair in pigtails and had to stand on my tippy toes to ride Space Mountain, I had my fair share of “Valentines.”
In Kindergarten, it was Patrick. He was also my first kiss. Well, of the “Let’s run behind the tree, and I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” kind. Then there was James. Sweet James. Benji, Jeff, and Paul got me through elementary school. There was David in middle school. Then Mike, and Mike again, and Mike again, oh for about eight years. Then there was someone who will remain nameless in order to squash any urges I may have to create clever pseudonyms that might not be too complimentary. He was around for too many V-days.
So, there have been opportunities to celebrate. I just chose not to. (Those in my life will vouch for this fact. Many a boyfriend have been grateful for my wallflower ways when it comes to V-day.)
Some people avoid Valentine’s Day because they think it’s become a Hallmark holiday. I can see that. However, I’m all for commerce and capitalism and people having an extra day to buy their loved ones presents. I don’t *not* celebrate it because it’s commercialized. If people want to have an excuse to buy chocolates and cards and big “I love you!” balloons, who am I to judge? Have at it. Keep our economy chugging along, please.
Sure, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, but for those that don’t have an other half, the day can be disappointing. Having always had at least one friend who feels that way this time of year, I can attest to the fact that this type of disappointment, like any other I suppose, is not fun. And so, for solidarity to my friends, I let February 14th pass by just like any other day.
Now Love, that’s a whole different story. Love is what makes the world go ‘round, right? Well, love and ambition and The Big Guy Upstairs and that whole earth orbiting the sun and spinning on its axis thing. That, too. While many of us hope for life-long love, marrying the person of our dreams, having beautiful and intelligent children with that person, and then growing old and dancing to Etta James and doing the Electric Slide on our 50th wedding anniversary, it doesn’t always work out that way.
My mother, God love her, is on her third husband. I’m not quite sure how these men perform in the “Husband” department, but all three of the men she married have been great dads to me. She knows how to pick good fathers, that’s for sure. (And they’re all Gators, so clearly she has good taste.) Because my mother has had at least three Great Loves in her life, we now have a blended family, and while it’s not “happily-ever-after love” the first (or second) time around, it’s still not half bad. Here’s why:
1. Extra Family Members. Because my mom and dad broke up, I now have a lovely (and hilarious) step-mom, a lovely (and kind) 2nd dad, a lovely (and generous) 2nd step-mom who is married to my 2nd dad (and her super fun daughter/my most recent sisterly addition), and three lovely (beautiful, smart, and funny) sisters. (We’re mutt sisters, sharing one parent by blood and one parent by love.) A little confusing, I’m aware, and not too pretty on paper, but most certainly entertaining in real life.
Now that my mom’s on to her third husband, I now have *another* great dad (who likes to hunt and fish and claims he’s going to take me one day soon…cough, cough…Mike? You reading this?) and a brother and sister-in-law (who live in England!)…and as of April of this year, I’ll be an aunt. I’m pretty sure Baby Gator cheerleading outfits look just as cute in England as they do in Florida.
And because all these husbands have sisters and brothers, I also have a bunch of fun aunts and uncles and extra grandparents and cousins. Yes, the family tree is huge and gnarly, but it sure does make things interesting, especially around the holidays…which brings me to my next point…
2. Extra Celebrations. Up until about the age of 23, birthdays are really fun. Getting to celebrate your birthday multiple times with your various families, and then again with your friends, makes for a busy birthday month. Busy and fun and lucrative.
Christmas? Just as good. Not only do you get (and give) extra presents, you get extra food, too. Grant family Christmases are classic for holiday dinners, but the rest of the families certainly know how to cook a feast. (And when all the families (ex’s and current spouses, etc.) get together, which has happened countless times in my life, we can feed an army.)
Sure, there are extra celebrations (birthdays, graduations, getting accepted into UF parties, etc.) for everyone else, too. These can be detrimental to my pocketbook (and my shoe and travel fund); however, the good times make it all worth it. At all these events, memories are made and stories are spun. The history of our good times as a blended family grows longer with each event.
3. Independence. Independence goes right along with extra celebrations. Because I come from a fractured family, I am used to being passed around the state (and country) for family gatherings. I am not traumatized by not being with a certain family member for a certain holiday, and they are not traumatized by me not being there. We all know we’ll get around to celebrating sooner or later. And because I’m all about delayed gratification, “sooner or later” works out perfectly. While I certainly admire families who *must* be together during the holidays, I find it comforting to know anticipation replaces disappointment in my family when it comes to absences around those times of year.
4. Love. I feel very loved. All the time.
5. A Good Example. While many divorces end in life-long resentments, I know nothing about that. My parents, all of them, have done an amazing job of being responsible, respectful, quality human beings. All the husbands (current and ex’s) get along and share “Maria” jokes, and all the wives (current and ex’s) get along and share pointers.
I know not of bitter fights and angry battles. I know only of adults behaving like, well, adults. Because of this, I have seen how it’s done and I know it is possible, this life of a happy, blended family. And while one day I hope to have one, just one, husband, I know that good can come from situations other than a traditional “happily ever after.”
So, while I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I do celebrate love. Lots of it. And with all the various family members I have, with all of their various characteristics, I feel as if I’m qualified to do so. 365 days a year.
**Photos courtesy of scoop.it, zazzle.com, community.trendmicro.com, firebellymarketing.com, footballfanatics.com, and twentytwowords.com.