Monday, February 13, 2012

Recalling past loves on Valentine's Day, the good, the bad and the not-so-bad. Debrett's weighs in on choosing bouquets

The first thing wrong with Valentine's Day is that it falls at the wrong time of the year when a portion of the world is deep in the throes of winter woes. It would be much better if the holiday fell during late Spring or early summer, for example. Here's a thought: why not switch Valentine's Day, with let's say...Mother's Day, for example? Mothers being blessed with extra-understanding qualities wouldn't mind observing their special day in winter. Right moms?

This holiday aimed at romantics came about a long time ago when the Bishop of Spoleto was martyred on February 14, AD 271. Traditionally, Valentine's Day was celebrated as a lover's feast, hence the reason for restaurants offering special gastronomical banquets. Profit has nothing to do with it, of course.

According to, statistically, 110 million Valentine's roses are sold and delivered in a three-day period surrounding February 14th, the vast majority of which are red. Of those 110 million, 73% are purchased by men and a mere 27% are purchased by women. It's intereseting, at least to me that red roses are the number one color choice. Roses do come in other tints including yellow, pink, white and shade mixes. Somehow, the color red  is viewed as a passionate hue, implying pasionate undertones, which is probably the reason that men are attracted to this particular tint and stick to giving red roses. Then again, so is black... But I digress.

In as far as the selection of flowers, we look to Debretts once again, "the" guide to social etiquette, for its take blooms.

Be prepared to spend, and don't economise. Never buy bunches from the supermarket or garage.
Garage? People sell flowers from garages? I thought that was the place one stored trash cans that hold dead rose bushes. Ask me about it.

•Don't overlook the importance of the card that accompanies a delivered bouquet - it is an important part of the present.

•Make sure the bouquet suits the occasion and the style of the recipient (e.g. classic or contemporary).
In other words, don't give your special friend a Venus Fly Trap for example, in the way of a card and gift. If someone wants to get rid of insects, they can call an exterminator.

•Avoid white flowers for celebratory bunches (they are often associated with funerals and death).

•Mixed bouquets can look cheap if they aren't substantial and well-styled; instead, consider buying a bunch of all one type of bloom or going for just a single colour.
Personally, I believe in using flowers growing in or around one's garden. When one thinks about it, dandelions fit the bill perfectly and they are virtually...everywhere, plus they are free for the asking. Or for that touch of greenery, add some three (four leaf are hard to find) leafed clover.

•Utilise greenery - it can bulk up the bouquet and complement the flowers - and pick seasonal blooms, which will be in better condition.
Perhaps consider adding some dill or chives to make a bouquet look fuller. They can also enhance a home-made pot of soup that can be used as an entree for the Valentine's Day supper. Two gifts for the price of one! Can't go wrong!

That Debrett's has the right answers to suit all occasions. Of course they will be consulted for advice on social dilemmas. But I digress...again.

Thinking back, my first encounter with romance was a somewhat painful experience. We were both nine years old and after our school day ended, we enjoyed sitting on my front stairs discussing life as seen through our eyes. One day for no apparent reason and without any prior warning, he leaned over and kissed me square on the cheek. To say I was aghast was an understatement and reacted instantaneously by making a fist and thrusting it square into his stomach. He groaned while doubling over in pain. We stared at each other for what seemed like forever but was probably no more than a few seconds, as tears welled up in his eyes and spilling on to his cheeks. Clutching his stomach, he took off like a bat out of hell and never looked back. Ever. We never spoke again and he refused all overtures of friendship.

The first twitches of love were felt by author, Josh H., at the ripe age of seven. He still retains the image of the object of his affection dancing and singing with a group of girls at a school performance. Later, a girl in the 4th grade gave him his first valentine's card when they were both 9 years old.

" I remember it well because it totally shocked the heck out of me," Josh recalls. "I didn't even thank her because I was too embarassed. But I do remember her name well, because it was and still is the loveliest female name I've ever come across: Donna Marie Devoe. I think I'll use that name in a book one day."

As a student, Sadie Johnson,  felt an attraction to someone in one of her classes.

"We were acquaintances, maybe even friends, but I was way, way too scared to say anything (it was an interesting time for me, I might act differently now than I did then, but if it hadn't happened the way it did, I don't know if I'd be the person I am today). I don't know if she had any inkling of how I felt, but she never reacted as if she did. I still see her occasionally and still get a little flutter in my stomach when I see her, but I don't know if I'm just in love with the memory of her from school, or I'm actually still in love with her."

For Sadie, February 14 is merely another day.
"Maybe if I was in a relationship I'd feel differently, but I doubt it. I do think it's a commercial rip off, and I'm not much for the saccharine idea of romance put forth by the card companies. That's not love, that's hollywood sappiness, at least in my opinion."

The date has special meaning for Thomas Fisk and his wife.

"On Valentines Day, 1988, we did a pregnancy test and found she was pregnant with my first son. Needless to say, Valentines Day has always been very special to me ever since."

A romantic, his perspective is that it's a sweet day set aside for love.

"With all the negative things in our society today, we need every positive things we can get," Thomas opined. "I've seen so many wonderfully creative things people do on Valentines Day that have nothing to do with buying gifts."

Practicing what he preaches, Thomas's celebrations have included preparing a romantic evening replete with a home-cooked meal followed by a soak in the bath tub surrounded by candles. It's the sentiments that count.

"But even if someone only buys a gift or gives a box of candy, it's still a nice thing and every little nice thing counts. Just because companies make a ton of money doesn't take away the fact that it is such a very nice day."

Children's author, Donna Campbell Smith, recalls Valentine's Day as a special occasion while attending school.

"I remember Valentine's Day being a big deal in elementary school. We made and decorated big Valentine's Day envelopes and the teacher hung them on the wall. Then everyone brought everyone a Valentine and dropped it in the big envelopes. On Valentine's Day we had a party (grade mother's brought refreshments) and opened our big envelopes full of Valentines."

She experienced her first crush in 5th grade and searched through all her cards to find a special one that would convey her feelings.

"Alas, there was not one. A foreshadowing of future disappointments in men," Donna jokes. "I married my high school sweetheart and it lasted 26 years. Not too bad, all things considered. I have three daughters, three grandchildren and two darling great grands to show for it."

Came accross this quotation, which sums up love and Valentine's Day:
"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. (Unknown Author)

Aint't that the truth.

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