Monday, February 13, 2012

My Funny Valentine 2

It is that time of the year again, and there is that ubiquitous woman standing by herself and staring at the shelves of pink hearts and chocolates in the supermarket.

Perhaps I shouldn't assume that she was a lonely heart, or that she was pondering how many Valentines she was going to receive this year (if any).

But it is hard to break out of the stereotypes and associations this one day in the year come laden with. The reminders are everywhere and in your face - from advertisements for couples' dinners to flowers and chocolates, and nowadays, more original, sassy and kinky stuff.

On the other hand, if you're Valentine-less, the magazines and papers are full of useless 'how-to' articles that don't really help at all: 'how to survive Valentine's Day alone' and 'how to get a date if you're single', etc. Just what exactly is wrong with people being alone (and - entertain this possibility - happy) on this day?

Now, I'm a girl who loves my dinners and flowers, but I'm also the least likely to crumble in a heap if I have to eat a takeout dinner in front of Facebook (and everyone's pictures of their dinner).

The truth is: most of us have years of wonderful, memorable Valentine's Day, and years of not so great ones. Some are lucky enough to have more good years than bad ones. A sobering reminder is that billions of people in the world do not even celebrate this day (at least not with expensive dinners and gifts), given that they live only on a few dollars a day.

A couple of years ago, I started taking my little man out as my 'funny Valentine' date (links to the first 'My Funny Valentine' blog post). This little guy, my 'number one baby' who is growing up much faster than I can keep up with, once said to me:

“Mum, one is a very lonely number.”

“Why is one a very lonely number?”

“Because it always has to go first.”

''Zero is also very lonely.''


''Because it means nothing.''

He was four when he said that - already aware of the number games that we go through in life. I told him much later on, that whether it was zero, one, twos, threes or many, loneliness and love all come from within each and everyone of us. You can have thousands of people loving you, but still be lonely because you do not love yourself. Or, you can be alone in the world, but happy, loved and loving.

I'm not sure he got that bit just yet, despite being the philosopher that he is. But, he will. Hopefully, it won't take him as long as it took me to understand that.

Last year, the little guy and his little lady sister surprised me with a huge Valentine's balloon I found in my room when I got back from a trip to New York. That sealed a new routine - me and my two funny Valentines.

This Valentine's Day, I would hardly see my babies. I see the little guy briefly before I put him on the bus to school early in the morning; and I see the little lady briefly after the school bus drops her off late in the evening.

As I left the supermarket, I saw the news on Twitter about Whitney Houston's death. She was only 48. (And yes, I check tweets even when I'm pushing a cart full of groceries.)

After loading the groceries in the car, I headed for the bakery. I picked a tiny, pink, heart-shaped cake and proceeded to fill it with icing messages and kitschy decor for the babies, including a yellow smiling face.

We celebrated Valentine's Day two days in advance, on a Sunday this year. My message to them every year will be one borrowed from one of my favourite Whitney Houston songs:

I decided long ago never to walk in anyone's shadow. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I'll live as I believe. No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity...because the greatest love of all is happening to me. Learning to love the greatest love of all.

Ironically, her struggles in life and untimely death showed that knowing this doesn't always mean it's easy to live it.

So, I hope I was wrong in my assumptions about the woman in the supermarket staring at the chocolates, thankful that I'm now positively living the greatest love of all, and hopeful that the people I love most of all - my funny Valentines - will live this love their whole lives.

Love yourself - at least, as much as you love the ones you love most.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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