Valentine’s Day: the holiday that celebrates love, passion, adoration, etc. Just the thought of it makes me feel out of sorts. While most people believe it is all about the sweetheart type of love, the truth is, the holiday is commemorating the death of a priest who went against the Roman Emperor Claudius’ II laws banning marriage.
The Emperor believed that married men made lousy soldiers — being distracted by the thoughts of a wife and children would make them less willing to die in battle. The priest named Valentine, believed in the sanctity of marriage and would secretly marry sweethearts, but it was his praying to Christ for the citizens that caught the attention and ire of the Emperor.
Discovering he was marrying couples just gave Claudius II an excuse to execute him. Of course, there was torture involved; it’s sort of seems like a requirement for sainthood.
Since I will be at a convention with college students this weekend, my Valentines Day is going to be a bit of a bust. I won’t be home to witness our son fall in love with his latest dinosaur or to cook a special meal for the Hubs. Life happens.
But, one thing I know for certain is there will be students bemoaning their lack of a beau. Once upon a time, I did the same thing. It wasn’t until several years later, that I realized there are worse things than being single on Feb. 14.
In college, it was Valentine’s Day when my sweetheart and I learned his chemotherapy had not worked. More than a decade later, it was again Valentine’s Day, when my (then) husband called to ask me to file for a divorce because he met someone he wanted to propose to. Neither of those holidays were enjoyable, but they did set the bar pretty darn low for other years to look good.
What I came to discover was being alone on Valentine’s Day can be liberating. I could absolutely eat peanut butter straight from the jar while dressed in ratty sweatpants and watch The Princess Bride with no snarky comments coming from across the room. I could soak in the tub and read for as long as I wanted without anyone invading my space.
Did you know that almost no one schedules hair appointments or pedicures on the evening of Valentine’s Day — so easy to pamper yourself. Book stores, grocery stores, antique malls and craft stores are usually empty, so browsing is peaceful. I found this was also a terrific day to get together with other friends who were recently divorced, widowed or whose spouse was deployed. We would feast on favorite munchies, drink terrible cocktails, talk about everything under the sun and laugh until we couldn’t breathe.
Other times, I wanted to be alone, with just memories for company. Records would play and photo albums would come out. I visited with loved ones who were no longer in my life and appreciate the gift of the memories we created together.
This Friday, I will think of my parents who celebrate their 59th anniversary this week, and of several friends who are newly widowed. Opposites in their situations but equals in their devotion to their partners. I will be envious of friends who will post photos of beautiful bouquets received and will plan on hitting the half-off sales on Sunday to replenish my stash of chocolate for the office.
At the conference, when the student plops down in the chair next to me and complains about their singledom; I will offer them a homemade cookie, smile and share the origins of the holiday. Somehow, the gruesome details of a romance-based holiday seem to cheer them up and suddenly, being single isn’t so bad.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.