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Valentine’s Day 2012

Posted: February 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Valentine’s Day 2012

It’s that time of year once more. Love is in the air!

This is one of the days on which my wife and I have a long-standing tradition. The first Valentine’s Day after we were married, we had no money at all and couldn’t afford a babysitter (even if we had known one) and a night out. So I decided to cook a romantic dinner in. I got a frozen dinner designed for kids for my older son who was six at the time. It’s not something we did very often, so it was a treat for him.

Then after he went to bed, I started cooking while my wife took a relaxing bath. That first year I found some pretty cheap steaks, seasoned them, broiled them with butter, and topped them with swiss cheese. I pan fried new potatoes in butter and garlic. And finally I cooked fresh asparagus with homemade hollandaise sauce. (The sauce wasn’t quite perfect, but still tasted good.) French bread on the side completed the dinner. I don’t remember dessert very well. I think I may have bought a little something that year rather than making one.

I then created a candlelit place setting on the coffee table, opened an inexpensive bottle of wine, and we watched some sort of romantic movie (on VHS) as we ate.

Ever since, that’s been our tradition on Valentine’s Day. It’s actually been pretty nice. I enjoy cooking, especially when I can try new things without worrying about whether or not the kids will like it. (Of course, we only have one teenager still living full-time at home now, so those days are largely over.) And it means we’ve never had to fight the Valentine’s Day crowds at restaurants. (Neither of us are big on crowds.)

Over the years, as our budget has become less tightly constrained, I’ve also been able to try my hand at more elaborate dishes. Of course, now that I can’t eat gluten or dairy, my options are somewhat more limited, but there are still more recipes than I could attempt even if I cooked a new one every night, so it’s really not as bad as some people think.

This year I’m planning a lump crab salad, baked sea scallops, filets with madeira sauce, and asparagus with artichoke hearts. My wife found a new gluten free red velvet cupcake option she wants to try, so she may make those for Valentine’s Day, in which case I won’t make an additional dessert. (And honestly, she enjoys making desserts more than I do anyway.)

And we’ll watch something that fits the holiday as always. Perhaps we can watch Titanic again. It’s been a while since we last watched it together.

This year will mark the 24th Valentine’s Day my wife and I have celebrated and the 22nd since we were married. It’s hard to believe it’s been that many years. They’ve flown by.

If you’re reading this, I hope you have a good Valentine’s Day planned as well!

St. Valentine’s Day

Posted: February 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Personal | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, one of the modern Hallmark days for celebrating romantic love. I thought I would reflect on it a bit, both in general, and in my own personal experience.

There seem to have been at least three martyrs named Valentine in the early church. There is not a great deal known about any of them, but what little is known is easy to find online. There is a romantic story that one of them was a priest who performed marriages illegally against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, but that’s simply a legend. As I’ve explored elsewhere, Christian priests didn’t perform any sort of marriage ceremony until after the Church became the official religion of the Empire.

None of the feast days for the three St. Valentines are on February 14, either. That day seems to have become significant in medieval Europe because it was considered to be the day on which the birds began to pair up with mates. Romance in the Middle Ages was not quite what it is today.

Now, of course, it’s a highly commercialized holiday that many men fear screwing up more than with any anticipation. I’ve never really been one of those sorts of men, but I have grown tired at times of the relentless commercial and unrealistic messages with which we are all bombarded at this time of the year.

Our first Valentine’s Day after we were married, my wife and I were embroiled in the medical care and custody battle for my older son. It was something that dominated many of the early years of our marriage and continued to one extent or another perhaps even up to the present.

Going out for Valentine’s was out of the question and we had little money. So I bought what I could at the grocery store and turned it into the best late night feast and celebration that I could.

The following Valentine’s Day, we added a newborn and so the whirlwind of life continued. We’ve maintained our little tradition through it all to this day. Sometimes now I can afford to be more extravagant with the ingredients than I could those early years. And the “late night” dinner has crept earlier and earlier over time. Traditions are good, I think. They become imbued with meaning and with remembrance. They tie together the years.

Anyone else have any Valentine’s Day traditions?