It’s Valentine’s Day. A card arrives on the early morning tea tray. I clasp my hands to my bosom and exclaim, ‘A Valentine card for me? Who could it be from?’ Husband dutifully answers. ‘Don’t know. Postman must have come early.’ Further hammed-up swooning as card is extracted from envelope.
Then I give a melancholic sigh.
The card is of a couple of men of a certain age sitting on a sofa, one with drink in hand. He is watching an evidently post-menopausal Boadicea of a wife walk past, and commenting to his friend, ‘You know – if it weren’t for marriage, we might go through life thinking we had no faults at all.’
As he climbs back into bed and hands me our constitutional morning cuppa, my own husband-of-a-certain-age looks smug, but also content.
I thought, as I got dressed and began my day, how Valentines have changed. The card had reawakened that long-ago bitter-sweet adolescent anticipation as February 14th approached, when I would imagine opening a card from an unknown admirer, festooned with great, red pulsating hearts announcing, ‘You are the one for me.’
Time today for a post-menopausal reality check.
Over the four decades or so that I have been eligible for a Valentine card, perhaps I got one, two at the most, from someone I genuinely could call a mystery lover. The rest were either sent by girlfriends having a laugh, or out of kindness. But, on the morning of the day, my letter box would usually remain resolutely silent.
Receiving a card of love on Valentine’s Day has only become an annual event in the nine years since I met my husband. And, as we have settled into our marriage, the messages of 14th February have unquestionably changed. In the first few years, my husband’s Valentines contained hearts and flowers, and declarations of undying devotion. But let’s be honest, everyday living eats into romance, however much we hope it isn’t going to.
So do the menopause (mine), prostate (his), and hemorrhoids (let’s not go there). And then there are his enduring little habits like leaving the kitchen table in a mess, his obsessive compulsive attachment to his (and my) computers, the inability to separate from mobile phone even in restaurants – and okay, I have a few of my own. These include forgetting to put the waste plug in the kitchen sink so the drain outside doesn’t get bunged up with rotting grunge, and backing our car at speed into the woodpile when my mind was on a nice jacket I had seen in the sales.
But there’s also something rather heart-warming about getting a Valentine Card that delivers a gentle dig in the ribs. The message may not be shouting about love, but it is recognising that relationships can be damned hard work, and thankfully in our case, worth the effort.
So, once husband finally appears after increasingly irritated yells from me, ‘BREAKFAST’S READY‘ (he has had a quick, and as usual entirely unnecessary pre-breakfast fiddle with my computer) he is greeted by my own Valentine card, propped up next to his cereal bowl.
He too feigns similar surprise as he opens the envelope. Then he gives a small, knowing smile and leans over to plant a kiss on my cheek.
The card is of a little man in the moon, saying ‘Yes, I do love you.’