We have a Valentine's tradition at our house.
I make steak and popcorn shrimp with twice baked potatoes, green beans with almonds, salad, homemade rolls, and cheesecake.
We are frugal and would rarely splurge for steak and cheesecake.
I am allergic to shrimp and do not make it often out of fear that just touching it will cause a reaction, even though it is Orville's favorite food.
On Valentine's day, however, I throw caution to the wind. I spend a little extra and handle the food with care. I fix a lovely table, serve up the feast with love and sparkling juice, and all three of my valentines lap up the surf and turf in record time.
They always buy me something nice, too, and hand it over with hugs and kisses and big thank you's. Valentine's Day is a special time for us.
But none of that happened this year.
NONE OF IT.
Because I just did not feel like it.
Which made me feel even worse.
I don't feel like doing much of anything lately because of the recent return of chronic pain. I have had a few rough weeks, and you have probably noticed. My blog has been like a ghost town, mostly because the pain has made it difficult to organize my thoughts and put them into writing.
I hurt up and down my back with stabbing pains in two spots. My neck is stiff, and I pretty much have kept a headache for six weeks. And I never know when the stabbing pain in my hip will start. When it comes, I cannot find relief. It hurts to sit, stand, walk, and lie down. Michael has to drag me to the bed, if I can stand to be touched, or I have to us my rolling chair walker to drag myself there.
Sometimes the pain episode lasts for a few minutes. Sometimes it lasts for a few days. I never know when it will hit or for how long it will stay. I cannot find a "trigger" either.
I guess you are wondering where the "happy" is in this Valentine's Day post.
It is that my family was not disappointed because I did not set a grand table this year.
They did not act like the sky would fall because they did not get their traditional feast.
They did not make me feel like a failure because I could not give them all that was in my heart to give.
Instead, my husband took the kids and me to Cracker Barrel. I know that is not a place of traditional romance, but for me, last night, it was the most romantic place in the world.
We spent the evening gathered around an old wooden table eating biscuits and jelly, hashbrown casserole, and dumplings. We jumped pegs in that little wooden triangle game. We drank sweet tea and talked about Webkinz.
And there was no place I would rather have been.
When we returned home we broke out our Apples to Apples game and laughed at whether a truck stop or the Midwest was more fragrant. My midwestern friends will be happy to know the truck stop won.
The night ended with a stomach virus for Orville and Michael. Not a dream ending, but that's when I got to show my love by rubbing achy bellies until 2 a.m.
I think sometimes we, or at least I, place unreasonable expectations on love. We give it its own holiday and commercialize it. We think we have to a have a romantic night out or a perfectly set table at home, complete with flowers and candy and maybe even jewelry.
But I know that my husband could have bought the most expensive piece of jewelry available and presented it with an elaborate bouquet of flowers and it would not have held as much value as the kindness he showed me last night. It would not have been as valuable to me as the fun we shared as a family. It would not have expressed his love for me as much as his lack of expectations.
He just wanted a night with me and the kids, and I love him for that.
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Pet 1:22