Valentine’s Day isn’t big in Australia, well not so much when I was growing up. It has become more commercial over the years and is something I’m more aware of.
I first learnt about Valentine’s Day in my early years at school. I thought it was specific between girls and boys or women and men, and was something to do with true love (even though I didn’t know that was).
When I got a Valentine’s card from a female cousin in America who was coming to visit us downunder in a few months, I was a bit confused because she wasn’t my girlfriend (I only wanted love cards from guys!). In Australia this was a very different cultural thing for me to have experienced.
Mum sat me down and explained it wasn’t that sort of love, but a true friendship love which doesn’t matter if it’s from a boy or a girl. And that this was part of the American culture to give cards to people who were meaningful in your life and someone you loved. I’m not sure I really understood (I was under ten years old at the time).
Mum then started to buy us (me and my sisters) inexpensive gifts each year for Valentine’s Day, partly because some of my ancestry is linked to America and I believe this was mum’s subtle way to open my mind.
One year, much later when I was in my early 20s mum gave me (and my sisters) a purse-sized packet of tissues with love hearts on it. I wasn’t impressed. Even though it only costs a few backs, I told mum it was a waste of money, as it was tissues. She was hurt and upset of course. It was just some fun, something little. Something I realised much later after she passed that required some thought to find something practical and without spending much money. And I was sad. I’d not received the gift graciously. Over time this has turned into the most cherished memories of mine for Valentine’s Day much better than any gifts from guys I’d been dating or in relationships at the time, (including a dozen roses) and a hell of a lot more meaningful than any gift I’d received from a man ~ who was supposedly in love with me at the time!
The gift giving has also been a tradition between me and my sisters each year on Valentine’s Day. My aim is to be thoughtful in the gifts bought and not spend much money. It’s hard to do. It reminds me of the effort mum put in to her gifts to me. How I was ungrateful but also how I learnt (finally) the deeper meaning of giving on this day, beyond convention, commercialism, to connect to the spirit of giving and recognising those who matter in my life, those who stay by my side no matter what. I might not be able to tell mum this. At least I can continue the celebration in her memory.
What special Valentine’s Day memories do you have? Feel free to share them below.