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Dad in the Box

Time For Love

John Christmann

Thursday, February 14, 2013 • 10:38am

Today is Valentine’s Day.  Expectations are high. 

There are cards to sign, poems to write, flowers to buy, candy to secure, restaurants to indulge, intimate gifts to exchange, kisses of joy and passion to share.  There are entire industries to support. 

It is quite a fiscal responsibility to love people on February 14.

It is five in the morning.  The cat has jumped heavily on the bed demanding affection.  It relentlessly nudges its big furry face against my head with its purr engine at full throttle.   To make sure I wake up, it sneezes in my face.

I run my hand over its soft back with my eyes still closed.  Happy Valentine’s Day, cat.

The alarm rings in my ear.  It is not a warm expression of love.  I roll over and abruptly silence the obnoxious thing.  My wife is still asleep. 

She likes it when I bring her coffee in bed as she rises.  It’s not so much about the coffee; it’s avoiding the trip that she appreciates.  Still half asleep, I make the journey to the coffee pot in my boxer shorts. 

I understand why she appreciates the gesture.   The kitchen is pretty cold in the early hours of mid-winter. 

I wake her with a steaming cup of coffee and a morning kiss.  “Is it hot?” she mumbles from semi-consciousness.  Since she has already sampled the kiss, I assume she is asking about the coffee. 

“Happy Valentine’s Day, dear,” I say.

She stirs and smiles.  She tells me she loves me.  I don’t really need Valentine’s Day to know this, but it is still nice to hear.   I tell her I love her too.

Throughout the house, from other bedrooms, I hear more grating electronic sounds.  I wait.  Fifteen minutes after the kids have snoozed their alarms into submission and rolled back to sleep, I poke my head in their doors and wish them out of their morning dreams with an overly cheery Valentine’s sentiment. 

I get the impression I am more annoying than their alarm clocks.

“If you love me you wouldn’t make me get up and go to school,” mumbles my son from his bed.

And so starts the official day of love.  I guess reaffirmations of affection should not be mixed with forced emergence from sleep.  Even if it is February 14.

I Love You

I like to think I am still pretty free with the three little words.  I like to think that when I share them they still have meaning.  But on Valentine’s Day, somehow the words themselves become empty if they are not backed up by associated tokens of love. 

Tokens often involving substantial gifts.   

But I still believe that love should be measured more by thoughtfulness.

If a man recites a sonnet to his true love over a romantic candlelit dinner he has carefully planned and prepared just for her she cannot doubt the sincerity of his affection. 

However, if he runs into Kay Jewelers at the mall and mindlessly buys a pair of diamond earrings off the shelf on his way home from work minutes before meeting his love at her favorite restaurant, where by miracle he was able to find a table at the last minute, his expression appears thoughtless and shallow.

OK, maybe this is a bad example.   But I think you get my point.

Here is what the love gurus say about gifts of love on Valentine’s Day.   Be a Valentine that is unpredictable, creative, and thoughtful.  Be a Valentine that is fresh and new and warm and fun and adventurous.  Plan your night and make it look effortless, even spontaneous . . . 

Somehow I don’t think the love gurus have kids.   And somehow I don’t think a passionate, spur-of-the-moment evening with the family at an indoor water park is what they have in mind.

So unfortunately, my unpredictable, creative, adventurous side will have to wait until I can freely go on a date with my wife.  Because although it is Valentine’s Day, it is also Thursday.  Tonight we still have to feed the kids, do the dishes, help with the homework, take out the garbage, turn out the lights, and go to bed early ready for tomorrow. 

Who says romance is dead?

Today is Valentine’s Day.  And tonight I want my whole family to know how much I love them.  My wife.  My kids.  I want them to know how much joy they bring me.  I want them to understand that I am so much less without them and so much more because of them. 

Do you think I can do this with heart-shaped hamburgers and red velvet milkshakes served at the kitchen table for dinner?

Like I said, on Valentine’s Day, expectations are high.

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