Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Thanksgiving of Love

I love love.

I woke up this morning smiling. A day to spend thinking about love. I consider February 14th the Thanksgiving of Love, a day to count all the elements that truly make life worth living. I even brought Hello Kitty Valentine's Day cards and Hershey Kisses in for my boss and coworkers. I guess my quirkiness for loving the idea of Valentine's Day must be something I've learned from my family.

My father likes to buy those appalling stuffed animals you see in drugstores. He once told me he buys the ones he knows no one else will take because he feels badly for them. He generally buys the cheesiest, largest, sometimes scariest cows and teddy bears and hippos. He especially loves the ones that sing or dance. My mother woke up this morning to a box of chocolates, a nice card, and a huge stuffed gorilla. I remember going with him to Service Merchandise back in the 80s to get my mother her annual Valentine's Day gift. Usually it involved a singing kitchen appliance of some variety. I believe singing cookie jars were always a favorite. My fondest gift from my father was an alien dressed in black and white stripes singing "Jailhouse Rocks." He always remembered. He always prepared. Mainly though, he always made us laugh.

My mother likes to buy every piece of candy the grocery store has to offer. She still sends my brother and I a package about a week before Valentine's Day stuffed full of calories. This year, she even put together a package for my roommate. I protest that this is a waste of money, but I do adore the sentiment. She usually buys my father cologne. He's only particular about two things in his life, socks and cologne. The socks must be Birkenstock. They cost $15 a pair. He has no reasoning as far as I can tell for this obsession. The cologne must be screw top. I don't know that he's ever gone looking for a screw top cologne. This may explain why he's so adamant about having something so hard to find. Luckily, he has no brand allegiance to a particular cologne, and my mother gets some sort of pleasure out of scouring the department store counters for a new scent with a good free gift. She generally cooks a simple dinner and gives him his gift afterwards. They don't do anything fancy or special. But as far back as I can remember, they so always spend the night together.

My brother and I both never gave one another Valentine's gift. We're from incestuous Bama, so we thought that would be a bit weird. In college, I used to send him Baby Christening or My First Communion or Happy Valentine's Day Grandmother cards. We both thought this was laugh-out-loud funny. Indeed, my brother and I have the same and most unusual sense of humor. I sent Josh PeeWee's Playhouse Volume 1 for the holidays. I assumed he'd return it to Best Buy for something better, but I knew it would make him laugh. He laughed so hard that he kept the DVD set. He intends to watch it while drinking. He sent me a DVD of Grease (we had laughed to one another over the phone about I Love the 70s which observed that Sandy became a slut to get Danny). Josh and I talk regularly on the phone. Mainly when something nostalgic reminds us of one another. Sometimes it's the E True Hollywood Story about Saved By the Bell. One time it was a fat Girl Scout coming to my door with chocolate all over her mouth. He called last year when he was given a Clarissa Explains It All boardgame as a graduation gift. He called last month when he won the entire Salute Your Shorts series on EBay. I definitely don't have the same relationship with anyone else. I don't think I could. We've shared the same Valentine's Day mornings with my father's famous stuffed toys waiting for my mother, and the same care packages from my mother stuffed with every variety of chocolate sold at CVS.

I suppose you learn how to love from your family. In my eyes, love is having a relationship with someone else that you can't duplicate. It's "getting" someone. Understanding. What means love in their eyes? My family has never been about showing love by dancing under a full moon with glasses of champagne. We've never been about long notes written on meaningful cards. Love to us is laughter. Remembering someone else. Love with a definite pattern that makes them realize your unique relationship. I guess my family has always celebrated what love brings to life. Laughter. Memories. Simply put, Valentine's Day is about spending one day thinking of how much someone means to you.

So Valentine's Day to me is my time to be thankful for the people I love the most in my life. Especially my family, who have taught me to love however I think I should.


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