My friend Brigid Kemmerer is sponsoring a contest for stories of your worst Valentine's Day ever. So if you happen to be here on my blog before 5 a.m. tomorrow morning (the 15th), head over to hers and tell her aalllll about it.
I was going to tell her my story, but then I thought, "Hey, I'm happily married, and since my worst Valentine's Day involved my husband, who is wonderfully good and kind to me (not to mention patient), how much can I really capitalize on my so-called sob story? I have it good."
I will say, however, that my disappointment that particular Valentine's Day was over failed expectations. And, okay, so I know that's what the very definition of disappointment is: you expect something and things don't work out that way and--ta-dah--disappointment. Really, when you think about it (and it doesn't require heavy thinking by any means), all unhappiness in general derives from failed expectations.
And Valentine's Day is the perfect time for many to reflect on those failed expectations: "I thought I'd have someone to share today with."
Or "I have someone to share today with. I expected that to be enough."
My three sisters and I decided this past Christmas to make our gifts for or only spend a small amount of money on each other. We're all old enough (well old enough) now and with families of our own--old enough and independent enough, that is--that token gifts are "enough." We don't "need" and we don't "expect" the extraneous array of . . . stuff.
My oldest sister gave me a beautiful handmade scarf. She didn't make it, but someone did, and it's beautiful: lots of bright colors, and even when I don't wear it, I have it laying across a chair because just looking at it makes me happy. My older sister made me felt mittens and a felt hat with a felted daisy on it. She's ridiculously talented with her creations. I can't even call them "crafts" or what she does a "hobby," because she does so much and does it all so well that, cheesy as it sounds, she's an artist. My younger sister, who has the best sense of style of anyone I know (though AngryBaker kicks some serious fashion tush too), gave me a short-sleeved sweater and a long-sleeved t-shirt to wear underneath it. Any great outfits I wear were either hers originally or contain pieces she gave me as gifts. I have her to thank for getting me out of the 90s.
It was a nice Christmas.
Oh . . . what did I give them? I hand stitched felt ornaments and made them wooden bracelets, each with a quote that reminded me specifically of them. And then I made myself one:
"Love Someone Who Doesn't Deserve It."
It's easy to love someone who does deserve it--like my sisters . . . and my brothers and my parents and my husband and kids and other family members and friends. But to let go of the expectations you demand of others--sometimes those you thought it would be easy to love or think it should be easy to love--is, well, just a lot less fun. But it's also very liberating because it takes away the burden of failed expectations: unhappiness.
I'm wearing my bracelet as I type this. It's Valentine's Day after all. And I do a much better job of loving my husband on a daily basis than I do of loving that neighbor who yelled at my son the other day.
Besides, who of us really deserves the love we have in our lives?