Over the last several months, the family and I have experienced a lot of firsts without Kaitlyn. At the beginning of November, I struggled through our 9th anniversary. Later, we all supported one another on Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and New Year’s. Last month, we celebrated her 29th birthday without her, cake and all. I used to joke that I must have been struck by some sort of curse to have so many occasions to buy gifts for in just a few months. I challenge anyone reading this to think up four thoughtful gifts in a row with little to no time between having to give them! It’s not that easy, is it?! On the other hand, Kaitlyn used to joke that I never had to buy her anything between the months of February and November. So I guess depending on how you look at it, I could have done a little better in the gift giving department! But no matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of firsts to experience in such a short period of time after losing a spouse.
February though, I’ve been dreading February. Valentine’s Day is going to be a tough one for me. I know it’s cheesy, and to tell you the truth I’m a little embarrassed about it. Not because Valentine’s Day is going to be tough for me. But because I don’t know about you, but when I think about Valentine’s Day, I think about all the annoying romantic comedies that create the Valentine’s day culture. I think about all the pressure that is put on couples to participate. I think of the dred that single people feel. So I’m embarrassed, because of the stigma that surrounds the “holiday”. (Yes, I put the word “holiday” in quotations. Valentine’s day is a holiday like tomatoes are a fruit. Everyone agrees that they are, but we all secretly believe that they aren’t.) I never liked the idea of having to send flowers to the office just because a holiday says I should. I also never liked feeling like if I didn’t take Kaitlyn to the fanciest restaurant in town it was because I somehow loved her less than the guys that took their wives there! The whole notion of it weirds me out, and it always has. If I’m being honest with myself, I think the main problem I have with it is that I’m a romantic at heart. I feel like Valentine’s day is the one day per year that everyone in the country does the same exact thing and calls it romantic! Which is perfectly fine, but for a natural romantic, that’s not enough. We plan for weeks or even months to make our significant other feel special for one evening. I have a problem with the traditional Valentine’s Day celebration. It feels too easy. I spent a lot of time planning special things for Kaitlyn. When it came to Valentine’s Day, I didn’t want to feel pressured to do something I was already doing for her.
So, I had to think outside the box. Instead of doing the same thing every other couple does every single year, let’s mix it up. Here’s a secret for you younger couples that are maybe just starting out. If you want to make your holidays memorable and special, start traditions that are unique to you. The reason Valentine’s Day is going to be difficult for me isn’t because it’s “The Lover’s Holiday.” It’s because early on in our marriage, I came up with an idea for a tradition for us that made it the most special day of the year. We would look forward to it for months and start planning it as early as our anniversary in November. I haven’t had a ton of great ideas in my life, but this was one of them. I’m going to tell you what it was, but before I do, I want to make something clear. This is yours. If you’re reading this and you’re sick of doing the same ole Valentine’s thing every year, steal this idea! You won’t regret it!
Directions for the perfect Valentine’s day: First, grab your air mattress. If you don’t have one, take the money that you would have spent on that super fancy restaurant and buy one! At least a queen size, there are going to be two people on it after all. Blow that joker up and throw it on the living room floor. (Or wherever you keep your TV.) Make sure to grab a few pillows and plenty of blankets, because it’s February and wanna be cozy. Now if you have a fireplace ,feel free to light it, but don’t feel like you have to. This is your night. Okay, got the air mattress set up? Great! The next step is super easy. Papa John’s makes a heart shaped pizza for this specific occasion, and it’s literally the only day during the year that you can get it. Call that dude and have him bring you one. I guess the heart shape is cool, but it’s really all about the pizza. If pizza isn’t your thing though, that’s ok. This step is like mad libs: fill in the blank, but keep it simple. You don’t wanna have a lot to clean up. Now, the next step is the most important. Do you remember when I said that we started planning this around our anniversary in November? This is what I was talking about. You’re going to pick a movie, but the key is to pick a theme and stick with it year after year. Our theme was 80’s movies! If John Hughes made it, we were watching it! You don’t have to do 80’s movies. Pick something that you like, but make sure you will both enjoy it! Now the fun begins! Eat that heart shaped pizza, snuggle up, and watch a movie together like you’re a couple of kids at a sleepover!
It seems simple I know, and I’m not sure what it is. There’s something special about spending time together like this. Perhaps it’s nostalgic, or maybe just very intimate. When we’re kids, we like to pretend that we’re adults. As adults, it seems like we try to capture the whimsy of being a kid again. Whatever the reason, I looked forward to this special evening every year, and one things for certain. This year, just like the years before, I’ll be sitting in my living room eating heart shaped pizza and watching an 80’s movie. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how you like it!
P.S. It’s never a bad idea to send flowers to the office too. Not because you feel pressured to by some made up holiday, but just because that’s good manners! You didn’t really think I skimped on flowers, did you? What am I, a monster?!