We always have cake for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. It’s my favorite holiday. I know it can be a tricky one for many. Lots of expectations. Often many disappointments. I fell in love with this holiday when my girls were very young. 10 years ago, actually. It was my last year of marriage. I was still in complete denial of how unhappy I was in that union, though looking back I can see it clearly. It was the night before Valentine’s Day. (does that make it Valentine’s Eve?) My husband was working late. Marleigh, Delaney, and I had cut out huge hearts, painted and decorated them, and hung them from the ceilings all over the house. After they went to bed I baked heart-shaped cupcakes. White cake. Sickly sweet pink frosting. Colorful sprinkles. I set the table with a bright cloth, strung fairy lights over it, put their candy around their plates, and a heart shaped-cake at each place. It was great fun. I remember noticing, not with surprise, that I wasn’t longing for my husband to be with me while I did these things. I would have wished for that in the past. Been disappointed that he wasn’t participating. I’d called him earlier but he didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t even think about it. It wasn’t important anymore.
The girls got up the next morning full of ooohs and ahhhhhhhs and squeals of happiness when they saw the table with its lights, candies, and cakes. They were amazed when I said the cake was breakfast. Delighted. Two and four years old. We laughed and giggled and ate cake and chocolates and drank tea. It was carefree and lovely. It wasn’t until they were off playing and I was clearing the table that I noticed. I was clearing three plates, three cups, three spoons and three forks. They were all the places I’d set. Something shifted that day. I felt happy and content and filled with love.
My marriage didn’t last through the rest of that year. There have been other loves since then, but nothing lasting. What has lasted and blossomed is the loving family that I celebrated with that day. Valentine’s Day to me is about love. The deep, true love of family and of friendships that have endured over the years and enriched my days. I believe that I will one day encounter the Valentine I’ll share the rest of my Valentine’s with. I hope he’ll love eating cake for breakfast, and that he’ll share a tradition or two of his own with us. But until then, and after then, and always, we’re going to celebrate the love of life and family and friends every Valentine’s Day, and every other day of the year. And we’ll always eat cake for breakfast on Valentine’s Day.
I wish each of you warmth and strength and love today and every day. Happy Valentine’s Day.