Here is the latest installment of the 60 And Still Fabulous column by Stone-based writer Julie Cadman. She asks is Valentine’s Day still relevant at 60?
The history of Valentine’s Day comes from the story of Saint Valentine, a Roman Catholic priest who tried to convert the Emperor Claudius to Catholicism. Claudius didn’t take kindly to this and ordered Valentine to be beheaded. Legend says that there was a guard who asked Valentine to pray for his daughter’s blindness, so Valentine did this and the girl’s sight was restored. Valentine then wrote a note to the girl and signed it ‘from your Valentine’. This is just one of the many legends of Saint Valentine.
My first ever Valentine’s Day card was from my best friend – of course, I didn’t know this at the time. Thinking back, I can remember very clearly that feeling of excitement, and euphoria (yes, it was a euphoric moment!) when I set eyes on that deep red envelope poking out of my school bag. The excitement, however, quickly faded when I recognised on closer inspection, my friend’s distinctive handwriting. It was pretty devastating for a very self-conscious 14-year-old. But she meant well, and I realised much later in life that this was an act of true friendship.
Looking back, I still question why this had such an effect on me. I think during my early teenage years, like many girls of my age, I lacked confidence, not just in my appearance but in my abilities. And, apart from my best friend, I found it difficult to make friends easily. I was very timid and tried to disappear most of the time. I felt that I was too thin and my skin was not the type of skin that tanned easily. When most of the girls in my school year came back to school after the summer break looking tanned, I’d come back still white with painful bright red patches of sunburn, a face plastered in freckles, and the inevitable blister on my top lip.
As I got older, like most people, I became more confident and we all know that freckles are attractive – just look at the front cover of most women’s magazines!
My partner is romantic and every year I receive a Valentine card accompanied by a box of well-known chocolates. I remember one year, he strategically placed a single red rose encased in a clear, open topped plastic tube on the coffee table. Now I’m not picky (well, ok maybe a little!), but, like most, I do prefer my roses to be perfect. However, when I tried to pull the rose out of the tube, so that I could replenish the water canister at the bottom, I had a Claudius moment and beheaded it! Luckily, selotape saved the day and he never noticed – even remarking a few days later how ‘well the rose was doing’!
It seems that for the most part, people do tend to get into the spirit of this romantic occasion, it’s been kept alive and flourishes more than ever, which is heart-warming. It makes me feel good to see people join in any happy occasion in today’s turbulent world, when there is so much unhappiness around. But I also feel that there is too much commercialism and this taints it a little, just as it taints Christmas and Easter, and of course, not forgetting Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but I guess we live in a commercial world and we have to accept that.
Apparently, there are now Valentine cards for parents, siblings, best friends and even your dog! But let’s not forget, not everyone believes that romance means hearts and flowers, even on (supposedly) the most romantic day of the year. Some people are just not romantic in this way, and that’s absolutely fine.
Would it bother me if my partner didn’t buy me a Valentine’s gift?
No, because we give each other gifts every day; gifts of love; cooking for each other, cheering each other up if we’ve had a bad day, listening, and just being there for one another.
Would it bother me if I didn’t have a partner on Valentine’s Day and I was surrounded by loved up couples?
No, I was single for a long time, it was my choice, why should it be any different for one day of the year.
So whatever you’re doing, whether you’re single or part of a couple, happy Valentine’s Day!
Just make sure you have a role of tape in your drawer, just in case!
Julie Cadman lives in Stone and is the author of the 60 and Still Fabulous column. Read more of Julie’s articles here.
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