The Husband has always had it easy on Valentine’s Day.

“The Man who Would Become The Husband” and I started dating on Jan. 13, 2000 and we had not had more than a handful of dates by the time the commercial onslaught of Cupid rolled around.

One month in to a new relationship with a relatively reserved fellow – with no serious girlfriends in his past, and therefore no history of V. Day “delivery” – I felt I had to temper my expectations for our first Valentine’s Day. To consider the Long Game, in lieu of the immediate gratification of 12 over-priced roses and the sad look on my single girl friends’ faces.

As the 14th approached, I found myself in a tricky situation that required careful negotiation.  If I expected huge romantic overtures from him, after only a month of dating, well… I thought it would make me seem a needy high maintenance bitch. (And while I am most certainly high maintenance, my endless needs stem from an emotional place, not an aesthetic, materialistic place. I may be exhausting, but I am not expensive!)

My alternate concern: If I expected nothing after a month of dating, would that make me…

(A) Nothing more than the chick he was banging? (Yes, gave it up on 3rd date. A ho, indeed.)

-And/Or-

(B) A cold customer, passing through for a shag & some laughs, sending more mixed signals than a base coach with bed bugs?

After all, I had told him that I was a “serial monogamist.” And that was the real problem. For seven years I had been with a sweet, but thoughtless, pot-smoking tree-hugger from my NH homeland. He had barely remembered my birthday from year to year, so my expectations for all holidays had become quite limited.

Expect too much? End up disappointed.

Expect too little? Get less.

I decided to just hit the poor bastard between the eyes with it. I explained, as best I could, the contents of my mind on the subject of the ensuing holiday. He looked positively dizzy after my download. I simplified:

“Let us celebrate Valentine’s Day,” I told The Man who Would Become The Husband, “but let us not go the way of those who will be raked over the commerical coals in order to prove our mutual adoration.”

He agreed this was a good way to go. (He is not stupid.)

And so a tradition was born. Every year on Feb. 14th we order-in take-out and watch Harold & Maude. Sometimes there’s a card. Sometimes there isn’t. This year, I got post-it notes. Not heart-shaped. Just yellow square ones. But understand, if you can, that I dearly love a post-it note. (They make my world go ’round with minimal disruption.)

Now, I’ve told you all this to give you a picture of what The Husband’s experience with VDay has been, up until the point where we begin the next leg of my Valentine’s Day tale:

We find ourselves in the year 2011. February 13th.

The Boy, now 3, is in a “Head Start” program at a local public school. He and his classmates have made adorable little mailboxes in anticipation of the VDay festivities. The teacher has informed class parents that students are encouraged to exchange cards and treats with their friends.

‘Nuff said. I love a project!

I set to work immediately, first trying to engage The Boy’s limited attention span in crafting homemade cards for his pals. He made 3. I continued on without him, making the other 9 myself, trying to style them so they looked like the handiwork of a 3 year-old with a limited attention plan. (Not an easy task.)

After the completion of the cards, I bagged little treats in adorable heart-printed bags and tied them with curly ribbons, hole-punching and attaching the cards until I had a pretty little package for each classmate, and 2 extra special gift bags for his teachers.

Was I done? Heck no!

I then painted Sam’s name on a mini mailbox I found at Target ($1!!) and decorated it in a gaudy and toddler-attracting fashion. I filled it with candy and Valentine’s Day cards, and wrapped a couple additional little items just to increase his Valentine’s Day morning thrill.

At this point – 11pm, Sunday, Feb. 13th – I turned to The Husband, who was about to sneak off to bed, and said:

“Hey, before you head up, will you fill out one of those Care Bear valentines and pop it in The Boy’s mailbox?”

To which he responded:

(Wait for it…)

“I fucking hate Valentine’s Day.”

Wha–?

I stared at him for a beat…

Then let loose:

“Really? Really?!?! Writing the Boy’s name in the “To:” spot, then writing “Dad” in the “from” spot? Too hard for you? A burden is it? ‘Cause I could probably forge one for you, if it’s just too much for you to handle!”

I took a breath…

And then explained, in a reasonable manner, that celebrating VDay was not about the “stupid Hallmark holiday” (as he likes to call it) but teaching The Boy about expressing his love and adoration for his friends, about learning how to give as well as receive, about having art projects that can be shared and purposeful, about correspondence and about marking time on a calendar. The Boy is learning how the calendar works, how one day is different from another (mon – sun) and how the year is cyclical. Holidays happen over again every year and can mark the different months/seasons. And, and, AND! Valentine’s Day is not about spending too much $$ on a girl who may/may not deserve it, or about being manipulated by Corporations, florists and restaurants who jack up their prices as a means of extortion, but about bravery and belief in love. St. Valentine took great risk to marry people who loved one another, but were not legally allowed to get married (Hello, gay marriage!) and he put his life on the line because he believed love was worth such risk.

So, is Valentine’s Day about love? Sort of.

But really it’s about having the balls to stand up for what you believe in and caring about human connectivity.

Well, The Husband was duly chagrined by my rant. He, smartly, apologized and filled out the effing Care Bear card and put it in The Boy’s mailbox and flipped the little red “mail’s in” flag.

Being a benevolent and loving wife, I accepted his apology.

But I told him to brace himself.

Saint Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and we’ll be celebrating that too.

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