Celebrate true spirit of holiday

Published 10:40 am Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tucked away in the dreary month of February and awkwardly taking up a day in Mardi Gras or Lent is Valentine’s Day.

The holiday was not conceived by florist and card makers as men like to suppose, but has its roots in traditions from both ancient Roman gods and Christianity. Since this is my column I will go with my favorite story.

One of the three saints named Valentine was a priest who served Emperor Claudius II during the third century in Rome. The emperor thought he would be better served in his armed forces by single men who were not bothered with thoughts of wives and families. So he outlawed marriage for his young soldiers. Valentine thought this was most unfair and continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret. When this was discovered the emperor sent him to prison with an order that he be put to death.

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Then, according to legend, Valentine fell in love with a young girl who visited him during his time in prison. Before his death, he sent this young woman a letter which he signed “From your Valentine.”

There are as many types of valentines as there are cards on the rack and they all have a special place in your life and in your heart.

There is the elementary school valentine where you open all the ones you received in class hoping against all hope that the boy that sits two desks over will give you the biggest valentine or at least the prettiest one from his pack.

There is the very first time you get a heart of chocolate candy and you don’t even care that most of them are the yucky cream filled ones.

Somewhere along the way is the first time you ever sent or received flowers for Valentine’s Day. Not sent because they were expected but because the young man wanted to surprise you. At least a few of those dried petals join the empty candy box.

High on the list of valentines is the first time you spend the holiday with someone you know you love, really love, grown-up know we are going to get married love.

Low on the list, but still important, is the valentine you spend pining over someone you know you will never have.

Or the valentine when you are to shy to let someone know how badly you want to be their valentine.

There’s the married valentine where you laugh at each other as you sit down to dinner with children everywhere, because you know they are the very symbol of your valentine love and they are the very reason you are not going to get to celebrate by going out to dinner.

Or the one where your child makes you a homemade valentine.

There’s the older and wiser valentine where your loved one offers to clean the kitchen or your car in lieu of candy.

It’s funny as you grow up the things that mean more to you than a Hallmark card. A biggie for me was always that my late husband wrote the message on the little card that came with my flowers.

That meant that neither he nor his secretary called the order in, that he took the time to go the florist and handle that detail. I still have every one of them.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I wish each and every one of you a happy one. And the best guarantee of that is not to be overwhelmed by the commercial side of it, but to celebrate the true spirit of love that you share with your valentine.

Christina Hall can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.