There I was in that aisle again. You know the one. It’s the one in the front of the superstore that has the seasonal items. I picked up a box of Grumpy Cat Valentines which, even for me, seemed pretty cynical for Valentine’s Day. As I contemplated the appropriateness of this facinorous feline, I suddenly realized something: I don’t need to purchase these anymore! Because of middle school, we have been released from the elementary school tradition of buying overpriced boxes of valentines for my children’s classmates. However, it was a bittersweet moment when I put the box back. It felt like Valentine’s Day had just lost some of its delightful simplicity once again.
Before Reagan was president, my classmates and I would make mailboxes out of cereal or shoe boxes. We would purge our homes of doilies, tissue paper, stickers, and scrap felt and yarn to decorate our mailboxes. Since we were just formally introduced to Luke and Leia, The Star Wars valentines were the coolest, even back then. We didn’t need to be given a class list to make sure everyone got one because it never crossed our minds not to include everyone. We would open our boxes after Friday recess while enjoying Nilla wafers and red Kool-Aid. I remember going through each valentine fully believing that each and every one of the names on those little cards cared about me as much as I cared about them.
Whatever happened to simple passion? I’m not talking about the clear-the-top-of-the-desk passion. I’m talking about this glorious innocence that fulfills your extraordinary memories. It’s remembering that time you were the special one that got the Pepto-pink “I love you” candy heart. It’s the middle school semi-formal when you were finally asked to dance with the guy that you had been wishing would ask all night. It was the time your heart broke in a thousand pieces and yet you were held until the early morning hours. It was the post-it note on the coffee maker reassuring you that you were abundantly loved amidst a house full of diapers and pacifiers. It’s the way your rings still look the same though your hands have aged. It’s the pet name, the private joke, the song you danced to, and the old car.
Simple passions seem to be fading into antiquity as modern generations make their own traditions. Where one stone engagement rings have been elegantly timeless, now his-and-hers two-stone rings are the new trend. Stuffed teddy bears are now as big as grizzlies. What was once a dinner date on Valentine’s Day is now a getaway weekend in the mountains. Frederick of Hollywood seems to have maintained his discretion far more than Victoria, who clearly struggles with keeping her secret. And if you’re in the grocery line realizing that you are not routinely using words like “mind-blowing” or “smokin’ hot,” we feel compelled to throw that magazine on the conveyor belt.
But later on, when the tea is poured and the stories are told, what is it that we will cherish most? I vaguely remember the size of my childhood bedroom, but I can close my eyes and see the way my mom would sit on the edge of my bed and talk to me before my kiss goodnight. It was the way my grandfather lovingly brought my terminally ill grandmother to see my new home a month before she died. It was a summer evening in Times Square, but all I remember is the hopefulness in his eyes when he proposed. It’s the box of the cards drawn with markers, handmade clay projects, and other novelties that I received as presents from my children. I have a beautiful pendant that has received more than its fair share of compliments, but in my heart the “Mom Rocks” necklace made out of alphabet beads is far more priceless.
Opportunities for simple passions are everywhere if we take the time to discover and create them. In this season of love, go beyond one commercially designated day for chocolates and flowers. Put reminders in your phone for random days in the future and offer sweet gestures to those you love. I truly believe that simple passions should never be limited to when that section of the superstore tells us it’s time. Instead, embrace the art of simple passion and you will find that in your simplicity you will have created irresistibly magnificent possibilities and irreplaceable memories.