I remember being a little kid and always so excited about pink hearts and exchanging cheesy Valentines with friends. I loved how the whole day at school became heart and friendship themed with decorations, crafts and glitter. We would have a little party with cupcakes and candy, which made it a fun day. At home my mom would turn the rice pink and make heart shaped biscuits. This was a time of simplicity and fun. I loved Valentine's Day as a kid.
The next stage of Valentine's day came in high school. This was a time when heart themes are lame and celebrating friendships just weren't enough anymore. My friends and I were getting boyfriends and girlfriends and Valentine's Day became about first kisses and as much romance as you can manage at 16. It was a time of self-doubt, uncertainty and wondering what life had to offer.
College brought a whole new set of Valentine's Day meanings. As I got older with more serious relationships and beginning to make real decisions about the rest of my life, Valentine's Day became a reminder that I didn't have it all figured out. The early twenties is a funny time in life--you realize you don't have it all figured out like you thought you did a few years ago, but you feel like you should. During those years being alone on Valentine's Day feels like a failure, in relationships and in life. Thankfully there were still good times even on a Valentine's Day alone--some wine and a nice box of chocolates makes any situation feel brighter.
Valentine's Day while in a serious relationship is something else entirely, especially as that relationship is just starting out. There is this pressure to make this particular day perfect, almost to the point of stressful. I never experienced these feelings to the full effect, but I knew others who did. I knew when I was dating my now husband that he was the right one for me, among other reasons, because we could laugh and have fun on Valentine's Day without any stress or expectations.
Once we were married Valentine's Day changed yet again. As husband and wife there was no pressure to have a perfect Valentine's Day. We just had fun, like we always did. We would go out to dinner and maybe exchange gifts. At this point in my life I knew I didn't have it all figured out and I realized that I didn't need to. Valentine's Day has become simply another opportunity to be thankful that I share my life with an amazing man I call my husband and a beautiful family.
Once in a while, the stars align and there is a perfect Valentine's Day. My most memorable Valentine's Day happened two years ago. Zoey was about 6 months old and my mom had come down to babysit. Stephen and I went on a date to downtown Charleston where we ate dinner and saw "Rent" at the playhouse. It was an amazing night all around. The magical part was when we got out of the theater it was snowing. Two to three inches had fallen, rare in Charleston, making downtown look like a beautiful dream. That was one Valentine's Day I will never forget, but I don't expect that every year.
This year I am excited about Valentine's Day for a whole new reason. Now the stage has changed again to where I get to share Valentine's Day with Zoey. Two years old is an awesome time for crafts and celebrations. I get to relive my fun, simple kid years of loving Valentine's Day with my daughter. We get to paint and make pink rice and turn our sandwiches into hearts. I really like this stage, but then again, looking back, I think I like all of the stages because it means you are growing up and making your own memories.
Valentine's Day is a day to remember those you love and to have fun, no matter what stage you are in.