Confession: I don’t really like Valentine’s Day. At least, not when I’m in a relationship. It just ends up feeling like this contrived holiday in which we’re supposed to act love-y, even if we’re not feeling it. I’m much more for random acts of love, surprise dates when the mood strikes, or gifts when you’re least expecting them. Receiving those things on Valentine’s Day, I’m never sure if they’re given just because they’re supposed to, or because they’re genuine.
However, when it comes to kids and Valentine’s Day, that’s a whole other story. Vera could not be more holiday crazy, always asking which one is next, wanting to decorate, read books about it, and dress accordingly.
Over the December holidays I had a minor freak-out though, feeling as though all of this had snuck up on me and that I haven’t prepared properly. Like I’m failing to create traditions and make each holiday as magical as possible for my girls. I realized that we are suddenly right in the middle of those years, the years in which traditions and magic and make believe are the center of everything, I realized that her earliest memories are forming as I write this and, damn, if I don’t want them to be good ones.
But on Christmas eve when I was thinking about this, all of us sick with the stomach flu, in my mother-in-law’s house, I felt stressed out and weighed down by this realization. I felt like a failure. It was Christmas eve and I’d done nothing extraordinary for my little girl. None of this was helped by the deluge of social media I was privy to. I think there’s this wild amount of pressure these days when we are able to constantly see what everyone else is creating in their worlds.
But even everyone else’s perfect Etsy-esque crafts aside, my mother was the master of holidays. She made every single one absolutely and utterly magical. She had this ability to give gifts that were even better than what you’d hoped for. And she always gifted you with the thing you really wanted, no matter how frivolous it was. One year for Valentine’s Day she gave me a hot pink hair dryer. It was the early 90s and I was in middle school, and all I wanted in the world was a hair dryer. It hadn’t even occurred to me to wish for a specific color. And then on Valentine’s morning there it was, in all its hot pink glory, waiting for me at the breakfast table.
I’ll never forget it.
I know that hot pink hair dryers are not what life is about, but maybe it’s these kinds of memories that are. The feeling of really being seen and heard? The feeling of love in the form of something you’ve been wishing and hoping for.
This morning I made a special Valentine’s Day breakfast. (The pancakes looked better than they actually tasted, but hey.)
And we gifted Vera with her very own guitar.
Her eyes were so wide as she picked it up, and later she came up to me and whispered with awe, “Daddy says I get to practice every day for five minutes.”
And that’s when I realized that even if I was working on creating memories for her, I was creating them for us too.