For most of our decades together, my wife and I have not paid much attention to Valentine’s Day, seeing it for what it is: a manufactured “holiday,” of benefit only to makers of chocolates and greeting cards, to florists and restaurants and jewelers. My heart is not completely quartz, and so I usually try to take my wife out for a meal to celebrate this American custom, but we never do this on Valentine’s Day itself, preferring to avoid crowds of desperate, overreaching couples. We go when we feel like it.
Yesterday at my work, I watched as a few of the females had flowers delivered to them. I smile every year at the floral parade, secure in the belief that no man can top the feat I pulled off — admittedly uncharacteristically — a few years ago. I hired a barbershop quartet to go to my wife’s office and serenade her on my behalf with a beautiful rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” One of her coworkers recorded the scene on her phone and sent it to me, which I appreciated. And later, my wife’s employer sent me a message to the effect that I had raised the bar for all the males in the office, and just who did I think I was? All in good fun.
But today, the flowers will mostly be gone, and the chocolates eaten or discarded, and there will be no mention of the “holiday” just passed. Being mindful and observant of this reinforces my belief that I am acting properly in not following the herd in this matter.
But if the gaudy event passes without much evidence, what remains?
Why, the contentment of the couple in question. That’s what remains.
Many might disparage the word “contentment,” believing that it indicates “settling for something,” but many are wrong, about many things, many times.
This morning while preparing for work, I became aware, as I often do, of just how good I’ve got it. I was standing beneath a nice hot shower, in a room illuminated by electric lights, and was about to breakfast on eggs I didn’t have to gather, after drying myself on a clean towel that has never been pounded on a riverside rock. I was aware that I was going to shortly climb into a car that had a heater and a radio and comfortable seats. I knew that I was not out hunting a job, but that I was driving to a job that I am at least comfortable in performing. Most of all, I was aware that at the end of this day, I would be returning from work, easing down that long, tree-lined driveway where my dogs and cats love to greet me, and where the woman who is the most precious and saintly human being I have ever known is watching for me.
I am a content man because I am a loved man. How many people out there in this dark morning are unloved, unappreciated, un-watched for? The love and happiness and awareness I carry inside me like gold is so very dear to me.
I am a content man. And this is enough. And this has nothing to do with an arbitrary date on a calendar.
~ S.K. Orr