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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

it's simple really.

Being in love is a very big deal when you are six years old.  Valentine's Day in the first grade is a proper holiday and a celebrated event.  Every February my mother would buy me the obligatory box of cheesy early-1980's valentines to trade at school.  I would excitedly read each card first, and then decide what classmate was going to get which.  It was, of course, critical to ensure the message felt appropriate for the recipient.  

There was always that one special person in class, the person whose name you will never forget (Stephen Benson).  The boy or girl who had to get just the right card with just the right words. The person who couldn't know you "liked them liked them"...but I mean, you still wanted them to know you liked them.  

As kids we knew so little about the complexities of adult relationships.  We were six years old with heart shaped mailboxes made out of decorated white paper plates...and yet, it mattered.  Our minds and hearts were was simple.  Showing it was easy and fun.

This year, as the heart-shaped holiday approached I got curious about Valentine's Day and why we celebrate it at all.  Since I can't ever just leave anything alone I had to do a little sniffing around on the origin of the holiday.  I found a tidy little write up here.  The image of Roman priests running around slapping women with strips of goat hide dipped in sacrificial blood to encourage fertility is now forever burned into my brain.  (You're welcome.)

Things change as we get older, and somewhere along the way we agree with the "Hallmark Holiday" school of thought that Valentine's Day is just another dumb reason to force people into shopping retail and a necessary break to keep the frozen filler month of February interesting.  

We dismiss the idea that a day devoted to love could ever be important.  At least I did anyway...until now.

These days I am ALL IN.

Romance is one of those things you don't know you need until it's no longer there.  But when the heat of a new relationship has turned into the slow burn of many years together it becomes shockingly obvious when it goes missing.  Then we have this day - this one silly little day in the middle of frozen windshield wipers and ten foot snowbanks to bring it back.  We have this day to clear away the clutter of a complicated relationship and get back to that open-hearted childlike feeling of how fun and simple it can be to show love.  

A couple years ago my girlfriend's husband wrote this in the snow on their front lawn.  

I died.  It couldn't be more simple and it couldn't be more romantic. 

*Copyright disclosure:  I did not seek girlfriend authorization prior to posting this image.*

My husband once carved our initials on a support beam in the basement of our old house - I count it as one of the most romantic things he has ever done for me.

This Valentine's Day I challenge you to go under the top (instead of over it).  Cook a meal or write a letter (like with a pen, not a keyboard) or pick up the phone and make a "just because" call.  Make a hand made Valentine and then mail it.  Bake a cake.  Get all dressed up (or all undressed) for someone who will appreciate the effort.  Or simply clear your schedule to make time for the person who needs your attention most.

Think back to what love looked like to you before it became complex and then create it.  Think of the things you did when love was easy and then do them again.

Celebrate the promise that love doesn't always have to be (and shouldn't be) that complicated.  Forget the fight you had last week and the things you said that you wish you hadn't, and just give love like you mean it.

Not because it's a holiday and not because you have to or because you should - but rather because it's fun, and because sometimes love really can be that simple.