Doctors of literature agree. The great works of history have only two themes: love and death.
And sometimes those two emotional earthquakes go together. But Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate amour; a red rose, red heart, red letter day, a time to celebrate life at the tail end of winter.
Lovers first exchanged Valentine greetings in the Middle Ages by composing verses and then either reciting them or singing them. Paper valentines came into existence in the 1500s and became generally available in the 19th century, when most people could read and inexpensive color printing made lovely cards possible.
E-cards are fun, but most people like to hold their valentine in their hands and even save them over the years. Always add a personal message, even if it’s only “Love” and XXOO. If you’re blessed with both time and creativity, make your own valentines.
The dollar store sells those paper doilies in white, gold and silver along with red construction paper.
“Charley’s sweet and Charley’s neat. Charlie is a dandy. Charley, he’s a nice young man. He brings his girl some candy.” And she reciprocates, the folk song says, by baking him a cake from the best ingredients.
Food as a token of devotion has been around since the beginning of the world. Male kingfishers bring their lady a fish, with the minnow being preferred. Male chimps show their interest with meat, fruit and veggies, persisting in their courtship until their love responds.
Human lovers should think outside of that heart-shaped box. There’s a sexy scene in “Tom Jones” (1961) where Mrs. Waters seduces Tom by simply eating a piece of chicken, tearing off pieces and licking her lips while keeping eye contact. It’s both comic and bordering on the pornographic.
Passionate dining includes more than applying whipped cream applied to various body parts. You may feed your beloved anything from traditional chocolates to slices of organic apple with tasty kisses in between.
Most women, no matter what they may tell you, like jewelry. But “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” is only half of the truth. Who can forget that moment in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when Paul gives Holly Golightly the engraved ring from the Crackerjack box?
At the other extreme, Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor with one of the costliest pendants in the world: a 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond, now called the Taylor-Burton, for which he paid well over a million dollars. This may have been too expensive, even for Burton in his heyday.
When you’re buying a glittery gift, use your common sense. If you’re well heeled and present her with a cubic zirconia, you’re name is mud. Your miserliness not only tells her that you don’t value her, she will also know that it’s a harbinger of the days and years to come.
Of course, Valentine’s Day is only 24 hours long. Even the grandest statement will become only a memory along with the initial infatuation that spawned it. Here are some ideas to keep the love light glowing.
Send little love notes, preferably written, not emailed. (The internet is eternal and open to the public.) Tuck a message in a pocket, a lunch. Go all out and buy a card for no reason.
Does he/she have a favorite movie? If you don’t own it, rent it. Then watch it together while you eat popcorn and snuggle. Take turns selecting the week’s epic.
Buy a bottle of your favorite wine and pour it into lovely glasses, maybe even the two from your wedding. Link arms and drink from the other’s glass. You’re on your own from here.
Give your partner a foot massage. Use scented oil and give every little piggy his due. This humble act should be reciprocal, by the way.
Forget the stereotypes. Send your man flowers at work. A single red rose says everything. Men, do you know what her favorite color is, her favorite perfume or flower? Find out, then act accordingly. Pick a day at random and have the gift delivered.
Treat your partner with the same courtesy you would an associate at work. If he/she were a client, you’d be clean, brush your teeth, put on your make-up, shave. You’d talk in complete sentences and be attentive to their ideas. The person sharing your life deserves no less.
And above all, touch each other. Touch with your eyes, your thoughts, your prayers, your words, your actions. Hold hands when shopping. Hug and kiss each other at the end of a hard day. Then when the tough times come, and they always do, you’ll already be in the habit.
A final tip for everyone. No matter what the proverb says, making up should always come before kissing. Sex does not say “I’m sorry.” Flowers and candy do not say it, nor does cooking his mother’s spaghetti sauce. Actually talking calmly about what went wrong, then saying those words, does.
Then, with the spiritual and the emotional in order, the physical may surpass your expectations. May you walk in love all year long.