They Lived Happily Ever After

“What can we do for Valentine's Day that would remind you how special you are to me, every day?”


“That's a tough question. I never really had a Valentine's memory to hold up as a benchmark.”

“Well, let's create one.”

The Hallmark holiday; well, maybe it is one of several. An obscure saint or maybe three that has become a cash cow for the greeting and chocolate industry. It seems that there are very few memorable Valentine's Day's as the stories that show up in mid-February tend to be about how one met someone special. Either we do not have special memories of February 14th or those memories are too racy for the daily newspaper, so we opt for the tale that can be told. Compare this conversation to the same conversation just before Christmas.

“I am getting ready to set up the train for Christmas. Trains were the sign that Santa was waxing the runners around my house when I was a boy. What do we have to have in house for you to feel like the holidays are here?”

“A tree, of course, but we need a jigsaw puzzle. I will get the ones we did last year out of storage and we can get started.”

The tree and the train were finished and providing light, sound and activity for the living room, but there still was not a puzzle. Probably because baking and shopping and parties and tis the season to be busy. Ten days to go and off to the internet in search of museum jigsaw puzzles for the lady's artistic temperament. Seek and the internet shall provide with guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery, a Mona Lisa in 1000 pieces carefully rendered to show the technique of Leonardo and the tendency of old paintings to lose the vibrance of their colors. A true challenge in a cardboard box.

On Christmas eve, the conversation finally resumed. “I still do not have the puzzle started. I hoped we could get a new one. Let's go puzzle shopping.” She assumed that she would be greeted by a “Let's go” or at worst a grudging acceptance and was floored by a one word response.


Flat, cold, cut off conversation, so we do not have to ruin the Christmas morning surprise. He almost crumbled seeing the hurt reflected back in those eyes, after all, he never refused such simple requests. The risk here was that yesterday's trip to the post office box had failed to bring the promised “pre-Christmas” delivery and there was really only one more chance. Could he trust the Internet to deliver as promised? What about the post office?

She swallowed the lump in her throat and they made plans to finish the details of holiday celebrations separately. They did not head out into the holiday activity until well after the the noon closing of the post office on a Saturday, not just a Saturday, but Christmas Eve. One of her stops was her post office box where she was expecting a gift as well.

She was alone looking at the little note that said her box was overflowing with mail and would she please come to the counter to collect all the mail that had been set aside for her. If only it were not Christmas eve, she would be happy to claim the plastic carton filled with a weeks collection of deliveries. Her only hope was knocking on various doors and windows in the hope that someone would respond.

In a different post office, at roughly the same time, he was standing alone reading a nice note that explained that guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery required a signature to prove the value of the promise. There were no doors or windows for knocking and his heart was sinking as he remembered that flat, cold, “No.” Dejected and dispirited, he started the car and drove out of the parking lot until he saw the rear of the building and minimal activity at the loading dock. He ignored that signs forbidding entry to non postal vehicles and started looking for an open door.

In a world of bureaucratic perfection, they both would have been turned away without their treasures, but we live in a world of solstice magic and unexplainable events. They both met people who were happy to help and keep the season alive by extending holiday greetings and service beyond expectations insuring that apologies were not wrapped under the tree.

“You bring a smile to my face every time I see you. I do not know how to turn that into a Valentine's Day activity. The only thing I can think of is to stop and share a kiss in the candlelight while I say thank you for all those smiles. The problem is that I am living years of daily Valentine's Day.”

Another conversation that did not produce a plan but instead a warm hug and cozy dinner. To make a day to honor romantic love, there is no need for six page Hallmark cards, pounds of Godiva chocolate, clingy see-through fabric or foxes in tattered bathrobes that flash you while gyrating their hips and tail to an endless repetition of six bars of “Foxy Lady”. No the day deserves recalling how you met or how your heart melted or how much hope you have for a mutual future. Romantics are not fettered by pessimism or bureaucracy. True romantics expect that holiday traditions will open the post office after hours. Romantics believe that you can put up a sign and the right person will find it.

She is a real estate agent. She puts up signs that say “For Sale” or “For Rent”. He is a creature of habit. When he arrives someplace new, he lets himself get lost under the theory that the next time he travels the same road, he will know where he is. He was lost and looking for a place to live. He saw a sign in front of a house that might suit. He called and of course got voice mail.

They both knew the minute they started talking. Of course, she could help him find a place to live (and maybe to love). Yes, please show me what is available in the area (and then who is available). It lasted only an afternoon, look at some properties, consider some options, but neither of them wanted the day to end. They both knew that the shape of the future had changed. They knew with a single mind.

A true romantic would exclude the months between this first meeting and the day that the details were cleared away and they could explore what happened that afternoon. A romance novel might dwell on each hour of separation while unrequited love smoldered in two hearts. A storyteller with a flare for the dramatic could spin off tales of intrigue that sought to delay or scuttle a blossoming romance. Those hours and stories are not for Valentine's Day. The story for this day, for this celebration is the fairy tale that ends with, “And they lived happily ever after.”

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