My true-love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given:
I hold his dear, and mine he cannot miss;
There never was a bargain better driven.
(from Arcadia ~ Sir Philip Sidney)
Have you ever seen the preparation for marriage courses? Many many moons ago, H and I spent our Tuesday evenings in the chilly and scantily lit meeting room of our then local church, eating CofE regulation biscuits (slightly soft, not too fancy) and chatting our way through the little blue book.
Part of the point of the course is to force you to sit down and discuss the things that no one likes to discuss, even with their nearest and dearest; money, family, in-laws; every topic your mother taught you not to bring up at polite dinner parties and all the things that you should know about your spouse before you promise to honour and obey.
But I think they’ve missed one off the list. They might ask where you’re going to go for your first Christmas, whether you’re going to have a joint bank account and whether you think children are cute, cuddly, adorable and expensive or noisy, frustrating, expensive and more expensive, but it doesn’t ask what you think about Valentine’s Day.
Are you a committed devotee, themed with hearts and flowers at morning, noon and night, about to marry a girl who thinks pink is overrated and flowers belong in the garden? Or so completely unaware of the calendar in general that you think the abundance of red in the shops and a smattering of snow on the ground means it’s nearly Christmas, and gosh how fast that comes around again?
H and I tried giving cards for a few years, but if you’ll excuse the terrible terrible pun, our hearts weren’t in it. I love to play with themes and will take up any opportunity for a bit of decorating and some fun crafting but I don’t need a card to know he loves me, and H would very much like not to be in that line of tired and rather worried looking husbands in business suits queuing up in Sainsbury’s at 9pm on the 13th, each clutching what they hope is a suitable burnt offering to their own household goddess (Elma and I stood out rather with our basket of nappies and baby wipes).
So, in what is now an affirmed family tradition (that means we’ve done it twice now and are therefore set for life), we skipped the cards.
Kitty and I spent our crafty time cutting big hearts out of all of the pink paper I could find in my papercraft stash, and threaded them on some leftover yarn to string between the lights and the curtain rails to make our little home even more pinkalicious than normal,
and Elma, themed for the day by the happy coincidence of cupid and the laundry fairy, lay on the floor and wiggled bug-covered toes at us.
We laid the table with “big camels” (candles for those who don’t speak Kitty), and our pretty china and glasses carefully out of the reach of both teeny tiny and tiny hands. When H came home we sat down as a family of four for our homemade feast; bruschetta on freshly baked Pain de Compagne (tomato for me, garlic mushroom for him), a glass or two of the cava left over from Elma’s baptism party (just the grown ups), and the biggest T-bone steak a cow ever waggled at a farmer, with just a smidgen of chocolate fondant pudding to round things off.
We might not have spent the evening whispering sweet nothings to each other, what with persuading Kit to stop trying to blow our the candles, nursing Elma, and chatting to H about the ups and downs of his day at work, but that’s OK. We’re celebrating our here and now, and if that isn’t worth a T-bone steak I don’t know what is.