It feels like it is everywhere at the minute. You know that scene in the first Sex and the City movie when Miranda and Carrie go out for dinner on February 14th and there are actual paper hearts hanging from the ceiling?
That's what my whole world feels like this February.
And I am not complaining.
Any reason to celebrate, I say.
One of my house mates argued that it's all just a big commercial excuse to charge an absolute fortune for everything.
He has a point. Dale saw an advert for a two course meal at Wetherspoons for 30 pounds. Wetherspoons!
(Just as a side note I own the only laptop in the entire world that does not have a pound sign.)
Despite this, I am actually a supporter of Valentine's Day for two reasons:
1) I love an excuse to celebrate. ANY excuse. I love how the air feels different if it's a special date. Everything from my own birthday to St. David's Day is exciting- anything to mix it up and make it different from every other day. (I tried to explain this to Dale the other day and told him that I even used to get a buzz out of being at school on my Mum's birthday- being reminded that there'd be cake later every time I wrote the date! Lovely.)
2) YES, I agree, shops and restaurants absolutely take outrageous advantage of the fact that it's a date that everyone celebrates, and so the temptation is to opt out. That'll teach 'em! But shops and restaurants do the same for every celebration- ever bought Christmas decorations in June? Or those fancy soap gift box things in March? They're more than half the price they are in December. Of course they raise their prices when they know demand is higher- that's running a business. That doesn't mean that the original idea isn't just lovely. I honestly don't believe for a second that the first ever Valentine's Day back in the 5th Century was the idea of a dodgy up-and-coming Lord-Sugar-of-The-Times to make some extra cash. There is a little bit of uncertainty surrounding the origins of Valentine's Day, but the basic agreed idea is that St. Valentine put love before anything else and that everybody agreed that should be celebrated.
And being the romantic that I am- I agree.
Dale and I will not be taking Wetherspoons up on their 60 pound Valentine's meal, thank you very much (!) but we will be spending the day together, and acknowledging the fact that it's just lovely that we found each other. (That's about as far as it will go though- we're very British.)
Anyway, I thought I would celebrate Valentine's Day with you, my lovely readers, by telling you just about the most romantic things I've ever heard.....
1) Surprise tickets!
This is the only story I will tell that happened to me- promise. Last year Dale was living in America and I was living...all over the place. Literally wherever I hadn't stayed yet and wherever I didn't think I would annoy people. Then I got stuck. Tube strikes and lack of a house meant that I was stuck in London for a whole Thursday with no money, nothing to do and nowhere to go. Luckily for me I knew in advance that I was going to be stuck, and on Wednesday afternoon the receptionist from work came in and handed me a piece of paper.
She smiled and said "This is from Dale," then walked away.
I frowned and unfolded it.
One ticket to the show that I was desperate to see before it closed. For the Thursday matinee.
Making magic for me from all the way across the pond.
2) The little things.
Regular readers will know that my best friend Minnie Mouse is currently on maternity leave. Today, instead of resting her seriously huge bump and putting her feet up, she chose to bake her husband his favourite brownies.
When I replied to the picture she sent asking her what flavour they were, she told me they're "oreo because he LOVES oreos."
3) Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
One of my house mates has a boyfriend that lives in France. This Christmas he called her a couple of days before Santa was due to arrive and told her he couldn't be without her any more. He had booked her return tickets to spend the week between Boxing Day and New Year's Day in Val D'Isere with him.
4) Fifty Years Later....
For the first seventeen years of my life every time I pulled away from my paternal grandparents' house it was to wave at my Nanny with her arms around my Grandad's waist. Not in a habitual way- but in a we-just-got-engaged-yesterday way. Even at my young age it always struck me how special that was.
I really hope I'm still that in love when I've been married for fifty years.
5) Wedding Bells.
Dory married her Prince Charming in an absolutely beautiful country house. It was perfect. Except for one thing. Dory had dreamt of wedding bells ever since the first time she put a pillow case on her head and walked through the living room as a bride- but country homes don't provide wedding bells.
So Prince Charming commissioned the church next door to ring their bells at three pm in celebration of their marriage.
Of all the absolutely beautiful things that happened that day- that was my favourite.
6) Genuine love.
In case you hadn't noticed from the above examples, I'm not a fan of huge, over-the-top gestures. Singing with a guitar on a flight is great in The Wedding Singer but I would die if I ever saw that in real life. I appreciate the more understated gesture.
Last year saw my Auntie and Uncle celebrate their 24th anniversary. I recently found out that they were only together for nine months before they got married. Nine months! Dale and I have been together for a year and a half and are just about entertaining the idea of booking a week-long holiday as a couple. Twenty-five years later they are one of the best couples I know, and my Uncle's Facebook status to celebrate twenty-four years together restored any faith in love I may have lost.....
24 years ago today I took my little Mrs up the aisle, if you'll pardon the expression. Ever since there's been nothing but fun, laughter and happy times spent with the most wonderful person in the world. What a lucky girl. I've quite enjoyed myself too!!! Thanks love. One more year until our silver wedding anniversary. It makes me feel old. Loads of love. xxx
There is so much love there, and absolutely no airs or graces. Magical.
7) Treasure Hunt.
When I worked in Disney World I witnessed a lot of proposals, but my favourite by far actually happened in London when I was working at The Lion King. We were a part of a treasure hunt that went all around the city, reminding the girlfriend of various magical moments in their relationship, and providing her with a series of souvenirs along the way. She came to us because they see The Lion King every Christmas, and in our shop found the Rafiki statue holding a bucket of popcorn (her favourite) with a note sending her to the bar to collect her favourite drink, and then on to Trafalgar Square.
It was a huge, romantic proposal but still managed to be personal and private. Perfect.
8) Lessons in Love.
I always say that I've learnt everything I know about making a marriage work from my maternal grandparents. Sometimes spending the afternoon with them actually feels like a master class in love. My Grandma has an excellent knack of making my Grandad feel like the most important person in the entire universe- even after 51 years of marriage.
I was recently there and my Grandad had cooked some bacon (yes for me, yes I'm vegetarian- they don't understand), and my Grandma said: "Oh Derek I don't know what I'd do without you. You just have that magic touch with the bacon don't you? You really are very good."
And my quite serious Grandad actually beamed, then tried to play it down with "well, you know, it's just knowing what you're doing" whilst clearly bursting with pride. That is true love, and a very successful marriage.
9) Endless Support.
I've just seen this one on Facebook but I'm sure those involved won't mind me telling you. A friend has recently started her own business and is in the process of running and promoting it. Her husband has just posted a picture of her looking beautiful and professional, clearly running a presentation on what her business involves. He has posted "Go you! You are amazing."
Being supported like that by the person I was spending my life with would make me feel like I could do anything, and is probably what encouraged her to start this in the first place. Amazing what a bit of love can do!
In a similar vein, I have a different friend who always wanted to own a shop. One day she arrived home to her husband with all his finances laid out in front of him. He had found a location for her shop, and gone through his finances to establish that he could support her until her business found its feet.
I can't even find the words to express how romantic I think that is.
10) One last one.
Okay I mentioned above that I'd only tell you one thing that had happened to me. But writing this has made me realise just how romantic Dale is. So I'll just let you in on one more. One day in December 2013 Dale just told me to keep Thursday free. When Thursday morning came around I still didn't know anything- just that I should wrap up warm. We went for lunch in House of Blues- somewhere that I had been wanting to eat but hadn't made it to yet- then we went to the most gorgeous hotel for a tour and then into an exhibition in which everything was made of ice. We watched the story of Frosty the Snowman come to life, went down slides made of ice and got some great photos of us in those big blue coats they provide. It was such a magical surprise and so romantic, I was delighted.
We then went on to watch the snow fall in Celebration, the town that Disney built, and then on to a medieval dinner show.
It was honestly one of the best days of my life, every step of it was so unexpected and so romantic, absolutely magical.
Whilst writing this post I have spoken to a lot of people about their thoughts on love, and the general consensus is that the most romantic things are the little things that happen every single day.
Dory did a month of romantic moments- every day for a month she did something different, from putting a note on his steering wheel to making him a special breakfast. Jiminy Cricket asked her husband what the most romantic thing that she had done for him was, and he answered that it's just the little things that she does every day. I thought about my own experiences with romance- and actually it's the little every day things that get me. I was worried about finding out whether I could get my holiday dates off of work today and woke up to a text from Dale saying he was on his way to work with his fingers crossed. I spent last night looking at his baby photos and laughing at his 90s haircuts. My brother Mowgli always has his arm around his girlfriend- and the two of them find each other hilarious. My other brother, Chip, surprised his girlfriend with a trip to the zoo today and is constantly sending her things that remind him of her. I remember being at a barbecue with Pumbaa and her husband when she turned to him and said: "do you need to stand that close to me? Why are you standing so close?!" He replied: "Because I love you okay?!" in a totally over-the-top fashion and they both laughed their heads off. The other day Minnie Mouse commented that she hopes her new born baby is born with her husband's patience. I was once at Madame Adelaide's house when she was giving her husband very precise details on making her toast and he listened intently and followed the instructions to the letter.
When we take the time to actually consider these things, they suddenly seem like the most special, important moments ever, yet we so rarely voice how important they are.
So let Clinton's and Wetherspoon's and even Aldi this year (!) take advantage of this over-commercialised holiday, let restaurants go all out (I just spoke to my brother on the phone and was greeted by Love Will Keep Us Together blaring out in TGI's behind him), let the cinemas go Fifty Shades crazy and the tv ads bombard us with ideas about flowers and chocolates being essential for survival this weekend. In the mean time, take this holiday for what it is: an opportunity for you to remember just how lucky you are to be surrounded by so much love, and to thank those around you for being so magical.
And please feel free to share your own magical stories below, I'd love to hear them <3
And please feel free to share your own magical stories below, I'd love to hear them <3
How romantic :)