Valentine's Day is, by far, the most awkward of all holidays. I'm never sure to what lengths I should go to impress my bride. A chest waxing? Private dinner at Chez Panisse? A monster truck, suspended by a hot-air balloon, ride? If I believe the media hype, nothing short of a twelve-carat diamond, twenty pair of frilly thong chonies, and a giant teddy bear holding a red heart submerged in Dove chocolate, will do.
My last non-awkward Valentine's Day was in 1993, just five days before I met Regina, and that nearly ended in a misdemeanor. Since then, I've had mild panic attacks each February 13th. Did I get enough? Will the hot-air balloon hold the monster truck? Is she still into Scott Baio lunch pails? Will St. Valentine fill my stocking? (No, that's not intended to be innuendo.) Of course, it always turns out fine ... small gifts, a great dinner-date, followed by food induced comas. Ah, love. But, honestly, the excitement of Valentine's Day is usually right up there with Arbor Day or carpet shopping.
This year, though, Dylan added a new and unexpected element to the day: she made it fun again. It started with a Valentine exchange at daycare. We spent the night before "making" cards for her buddies. It made me think of the Valentine cards I used to make with my mom. We'd spend hours glueing heart shaped doilies to red crepe paper, each personally decorated with glitter and crayon. The memory depressed me, only because I sat with my daughter, taping M&M's to Walmart cards that she'd scribbled on. We didn't even get to use yummy practical Elmer's Glue.
Valentine's Day finally ended, after a four-day sugar bender, with a mommy and daddy night out. Every Valentine's we go to New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, one of our favorite restaurants, for some serious eating and excellent wine. This year's meal was one of the best. I won't go into the menu, mostly because I can't pronounce or spell half the things we ate. I felt compelled to eat whatever Regina couldn't finish, so by the second course I had to loosen my belt, by the third I popped a belly button on my shirt, and by dessert the over-eating cramps started. I could only say, "Oh, that was good .... Oooohhh, my stomach hurts," the whole drive home.
Now that I share my Valentine's Day with the two women of my life, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the holiday. Dylan and I get tons of sweets, Regina and I always renew our wedding vows (we don't, it just sounded sweet -- we do get a great meal though), and all without the dread of finding the perfect heart-shaped gift or the fear of a misdemeanor.