Her most recent book, An American Queer, a collection of “The Amazon Trail” columns, was presented with the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Award in Anthology/Collection Creative Non-Fiction. This, and her award-winning fiction, including The Raid, The Swashbuckler, and Beggar of Love, can be found at:
Valentine’s Day is one of those do-it-yourself celebrations. There are no parades or feasts or family gatherings. When I was single, I could always count on a card from my mother and, needless to say, would send one to her. Commerce has no respect for the single, however, and for a month every year, the U.S turns red and pink.
I’m not sure if I should thank Cupid or St. Valentine or, perhaps, my late Catholic mother, but at last, I can say that goddess willing and the river don’t rise, I won’t be single again for the rest of my life. Which leaves me with the challenge of coming up with unique ways to celebrate the day for about thirty more years.
She does that year-round. Just today, on our monthly anniversary, she presented me with the gift of all gifts. My sweetheart gave me—you’re not going to believe how incredible she is—a Golden Snitch fidget spinner.
“I saw (author) Nell Stark with one,” explained my sweetheart, “and I had to get it for you.” All my other spinners pale before its silent and graceful niftiness.
In turn, I gave my sweetheart a gift I held back from the winter holidays: a boat and lighthouse tea light candle holder. Which I gleaned from the free table at our community clubhouse.
Yes, we do celebrate our anniversary every month and have for going on twelve years. Doesn’t every couple? We don’t always mark the date with gifts. Sometimes it’s a handmade card, a note, a walk on the beach.
That leaves me with the question: what can I come up with to make Valentine’s Day 2019 special?
It goes without saying that some years I have decorated effusively. The Dollar Store is helpful with that when we’re flush. This year I’ll be recycling whatever has survived the years: the lights, balloons, ceiling decorations, banners, window clings, cardboard cutouts, yard signs, door decorations, garlands. I’ve been known to get kind of obnoxious.
Before the diets, I was able to reach directly back to my childhood. My father always gave my mother a regulation red cloth-covered, heart-shaped box of assorted candies, invariably from Fanny Farmer’s, which was big at that time. I remember the shop near my subway stop—was it 42nd Street and 6th Avenue? The glorious smells, the enticing boxes… In any case, though I refrain out of kindness, the giving of the red heart of candies will always mean Valentine’s Day to me.
For my part, it was all about the cards when I was a kid. You sat at the kitchen table and cut out children’s cards by the dozens. They were miniatures and I was disappointed that they didn’t fold. This was before Disney and other franchises took over the industry. The scissors I used was heavy and large, probably from my mother’s sewing basket. It was awkward, cutting on the dotted lines with little girl hands. Then you took an actual wooden pencil, hoping for a soft lead, sharpened it and wrote the name of every kid in the apartment building, signed your own, and left the cards at their doors.
So of course, I did that to my sweetheart one year. Bought a package of kid cards and stuck them all over the house. She’s such a sport.
Or the year of Valentine’s Day stickers. Stuck on mirrors, inside the refrigerator, on the front door, the back door, the garage, her pillow, her clothes, her car. If we hadn’t moved, she’d still be finding them.
We’ve toasted by candlelight, just the two of us, at restaurants. She likes me to buy her a drink at the bar. We’ve revisited special places, like the National Park where we exchanged rings after signing domestic partnership papers.
Oh, and the stuffed animals, ever in their small basket demonstrating my overenthusiasm. Had she told me she wasn’t a stuffed animal sort of gal? Yes, she had, but I couldn’t help myself, the things were so sweet.
We have a gift card to a favorite restaurant this year. We’re planning to get a bite to eat. I’ll order her a pretty glass of Prosecco. She’ll wear her red sweater, black slacks and a shiny pair of earrings. I’ll dress up with my good jeans, a button-down shirt and, this being the Pacific Northwest, a rain jacket.
But I have to give the day my own grateful, adoring, loving touch. Something original that I’ve never done before. Probably something a little bit annoying, but meant well. It can’t cost money or calories, so there go the chocolates and diamond ring and flowers. Time is getting short.
How about a love letter? I could title it “How to Celebrate Valentine’s Day.”