Something New

IMG_1130When I was a child, Valentine’s Day meant school parties and special family dinners that featured heart-shaped gelatin molds and my very own box of chocolates.  When I hit the awkward teen-age years, the holiday was mostly a painful reminder of the boyfriend I didn’t have.  Then I found true love, and for the past forty-something years, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with flowers, chocolates and dinner at a nice restaurant, all of which I enjoyed very much.

But tastes change as we age, and in recent years both my husband and I began to tire of the crowds at the restaurants on February 14.  While the roses he brought me were beautiful, we couldn’t help feeling a bit scammed by the fact that their prices doubled (or even tripled) around Valentine’s Day.  And I have definitely reached the age where eating a huge box of chocolates is not a good idea, either in terms of health or being able to fit into my pants.

So this year, my husband and I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day by babysitting our grandson so our daughter and son-in-law could enjoy an evening out.  Like all parents with full-time jobs and young children, they could use  more “couple time” and we love nothing more than being with our grandson.  Which why I spent this year’s Valentine’s evening snuggling with a two-year old while reading him bedtime stories.  And loving every minute of it.

I’ve come to believe that one of the secrets to living a happy life is the ability to let go of traditions, expectations, and even relationships that no longer work.  When our traditions stop giving us joy, it’s time to find new ones.  When familiar thought-patterns keep us nursing old grudges and reinforce negative self-images, it’s time to look for new perspectives.  And when people we were once close to make it clear that they are no longer interested in spending time with us or including us in their gatherings, then it’s time to accept that and focus our time and energy on those who do value our company.

It’s not a matter of turning our back on the past and all of the happy memories we have.  It simply means that we understand that all of us change, and that the things that once worked for us may not be such a good fit anymore.  More importantly, it means that we’re recognizing that there are new possibilities just waiting to be explored that just might make us every bit as happy as what we are leaving behind.  We just have to be brave enough to try them.

There was a time when I thought the best possible Valentine’s Day celebrations involved lots of flowers, cards, chocolates, and dinner at a fancy restaurant.  I couldn’t have imagined wanting to spend the evening eating store-bought macaroni and cheese, salad from a bag and reheated chicken nuggets, followed by bathing a toddler and then reading him the exact same book six times in a row before he finally fell asleep.  Yet that is exactly how I celebrated this year.  And you know what?  It was one of the nicest Valentine’s Days I’ve had in years.

89 thoughts on “Something New

  1. It is so nice to be at an age where I see no need to follow trends and to succumb to special days “just because”! Even at Christmas, Carol and I sit down and discuss “What should we treat ourselves to this Christmas?” The end result is one gift which we really appreciate, and money still in the bank for when really needed. All the various festive days throughout the year are very nice, but one should always remember who is paying for the high pressure advertising. It can then be concluded that, unless we exercise some controls of our own, we are simply feeding the profit lines of so many companies!

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    • I agree, Colin! We get to celebrate (or not celebrate the holidays) however we choose. I love your ideas at Christmas, because that does allow you to enjoy yourselves without spending money unnecessarily.

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  2. I agree we you 100% that the key to aging gracefully is to let go of that which no longer works for you. I cannot imagine how defeating and restricting it’d be to try to do and be who I used to be. Thankfully my husband and I have allowed each other to grow and evolve as we’ve gotten older– even managed to like who we’ve become along the way. So there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I think that is absolutely the key to a good marriage: to continue to grow and to like the person each of you become. So often marriages fail for no other reason than the couple grows apart. And like you, I can’t imagine how hard it would be to keep doing things the way we’ve always done. Life is all about change!

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    • We do too, Alan! Now we celebrate New Year’s Eve either by going to a very early dinner somewhere casual, and then coming home for the rest of the evening (and often go to bed well before midnight), or we go to a friend’s house. We don’t have any patience for the big New Year’s Eve celebrations either.

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  3. Completely agree with you about not trying to hold onto traditions that no longer work for us or are meaningful. I’ve actually always found Valentine’s Day to be a bit forced and overly commercial.

    Sounds like you had a beautiful heartwarming one this year and that a new tradition has perhaps begun?

    Such a lovely post!

    Peta

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    • Thanks, Peta! As far as I’m concerned, we have started a lovely new tradition. It gives our son and daughter-in-law a nice night out, and we’re quite happy to stay home with our grandson!!

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  4. Life is change and paying attention to what fills us up is always valuable. I think it is just wonderful that you created an evening of love for all involved. For young parents getting a night out alone is important for their marriage. You and your grandson got to make special memories together. Everyone wins.
    Bravo.

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  5. My husband and I have long stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day the traditional way… if at all. It always seemed like a Hallmark holiday and god forbid trying to get a reservation at a restaurant! The gift you gave your daughter and son-in-law (and, of course, yourselves) was much more personal and heartfelt. I think you may have started a new tradition!

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  6. Ann, it’s great that you enjoy your grandson so much, and it’s also very thoughtful of you to make some time for your daughter and her husband to spend an evening together. It’s really important for young married couples to get some quality time alone once in a while. Very thoughtful post!

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    • Yes, I remembered when friends offered to babysit our daughter on Valentine’s Day when she was just an infant, and how much we appreciated that night out. That made me think of doing the same thing for our kids. It was a good time for all of us, I think!

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  7. Ann- I haven’t celebrated Valentines in years. Part of my active downsizing, I felt that commercialization of the holiday was something I refused to support. So much better to create special moments each day with the ones we love. Reading to young people is the best gift of love you could give.
    As for price of roses…the Dutch control the flower market and they really know how to squeeze the money out of us flower lovers.

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    • Yes, the roses are so pretty, but darn…around Valentine’s Day they are just so expensive! I’d rather wait until after the season when the prices go down (and the flowers look just as good). I can sure understand why you don’t want to celebrate a traditional Valentine’s Day, as it is basically a commercial holiday. I loved it as a kid, but now it doesn’t really mean that much to me.

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  8. As we are ageing and let me emphasize, hopefully also maturing, we learn not only to live with change but also face its many challenges. Thank you for your thought-provoking post on Valentine’s Day, Ann!
    Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis. Times are a-changing and we are changing in them.

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    • That is a very good saying, Peter! And you’re right, sometimes change is good and sometimes it’s challenging, but either way, it’s a fact of life. The good thing about maturing as we age is that we can accept that and even learn to embrace it!

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  9. I agree–traditions evolve. For Thanksgiving, we usually make pizza at home. Chocolate is something that needs to be eaten *very* sparingly, and I’m more likely to get a rose plant than a bouquet for Valentine’s Day. I think it’s better to “go with the flow.” This way we get to keep the tradition of observing the holiday, but we don’t end up building resentment, which is entirely possible if you blindly power forward, always doing it the same way just because that’s the way it should be done. I’m glad you enjoyed your holiday in your way. : )

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    • Thanks, Cathleen! And that’s a good point about how strictly adhering to tradition can cause resentment to build up. It is far better to go with the flow Personally, I’m finding that I enjoy our new traditions very much!

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    • That’s what I thought, Linda! Our daughter and son-in-law got to have a little time together, and we got to spend time with our grandson. All of us enjoyed it, and I think we were all keeping with the spirit of Valentine’s Day!

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  10. A lovely post! It sounds like a perfect Valentine’s day, snuggling with your grandson and giving your daughter and son-in-law a chance to go out. So nice!

    I whole-heartedly agree, “When our traditions stop giving us joy, it’s time to find new ones.”

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    • Yes, I used to cling to my old traditions no matter what, and it just didn’t always work! Then when my kids got married, I had to change our holiday traditions, and discovered that I liked the new ones just as much (if not more) than the old. The same thing with relationships….when they stop working, it’s time to move on. Thanks for the comment, Brenda!

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  11. If the meaning of Valentine’s Day is being with those people you love the most and sharing that love with them then I’m guessing you had an amazing Valentine’s Day. It must have been a one beautiful night🙂

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  12. I’m there myself!! We skip valentines because the love we share everyday is more important . My husband but me flowers just because so often I don’t need a day to tell me I’m in love😍 Like you wrote here, you spent the evening with your grandson and that’s a day of love❤️

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  13. Ann, what a wonderful Valentine’s evening for you and your husband and I’m with you on changing traditions! What could be better than to celebrate with your grandchild, giving the young couple a happy few hours on their own! My husband and I stopped eating out a few years ago and now he cooks a special meal and we relax later with a cosy film. Perfect! Oh, I still receive a box of chocolates though – I can’t resist them!😀

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  14. Whether it’s giving up something for someone, or receiving chocolates, flowers, having a nice dinner… there’s always a choice: do we favour the symbolism of it, or do we go to the heart of it all.
    You went for the heart of what truly matters, Ann.
    And only one verse comes to mind for that – She has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.

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  15. Sounds wonderful, Ann. Just waiting for a couple grandchildren (long into the future…)! I agree in switching things up. We do a lot of things “because that’s what we always do.” It takes a little courage to make a change in how we do things and who we do them with without worrying that it’s not what we’re supposed to do or what other people will think. Great post – as always!

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  16. Aww – this is such a sweet post, Ann! And yes, how we see and value things seems to change over the years. And it’s important to accept it and move on. You and your husband listened to your hearts and I think you did just right – babysitting your grandson and spending time with him sounds pretty much like the best way to celebrate Valentine’s to me.

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    • Yes, sometimes what we dread most about the holidays is the way that we’ve always celebrated them. If that’s not working anymore, then it’s time to give ourselves permission to celebrate them in a way that makes us happy. Traditions only work if we enjoy them, I think. Thanks for the comment!

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