I could do without Valentine's Day. It creates a lot of expectation, for both single and attached people, and makes love seem a little generic. If I were to shelve the cynicism and seek out the "reason for the season," I think I would find that it is certainly about love, but about expressing love in a particular, enormous way.
Chef Matt has to work a long day tomorrow to feed the 150 reservations coming into his restaurant to celebrate love. What is so ironic to me is that his loves -- me and the kids -- stay home and eat macaroni and cheese while he fans the flames of other loves with some amazing surf 'n turf tasting menu. And I know for a fact that there will not be any heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on my nightstand to make up for it.
That is the way I like it. Each year, the holiday comes and goes at our house with little to no fanfare. Maybe we are unusual in that sense, but after nine years together, I find that romance is best served on our own terms and without needing the nudge during the most unforgiving month of the year.
Matt once said that not every day is Valentine's Day at our house, which is absolutely true (case in point: a Kitchen Widow nervous breakdown last weekend or the cyclone of early-morning chaos that is Matt's Friday). We have our own relationship flaws. But every day has a piece of the spirit of Valentine's Day -- he sends me thoughtful text messages, and I leave him the leftovers he likes -- and because of that, we do not celebrate on February 14.
Instead, the day I celebrate another trip around the sun, which also falls this week, has much more meaning to us than the sonnets and flowers and candy hearts. Seven years ago on my birthday, he asked me to marry him. He could have asked on Valentine's Day, in a public place or some romantic spot, but instead it was just me and him, a card, and a ring in my apartment, late at night when his shift was over. And that has defined love for us for all our married life: just me and him, nothing fancy about it, fitting in time together whenever we can.
It cannot be a bad thing to celebrate on Valentine's Day. By all means, go in to my husband's restaurant and have your romantic dinner there. Tell someone you love them, especially if you have not in a while. But then pretend that every other day of the year is also Valentine's Day. If we are grateful for every minute we have together, and allow our gestures to be commonplace, I think we inch closer to what has become the one part of the holiday that rings true for me: Love Big, or Go Home.