Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Valentine's Day Hullabaloo

The Valentine's Day Hullabaloo
13 February 2013

I know, I know.  Enough already with the Valentine’s Day stuff!  A sensory overload of all things red, fluffy, kitsch, pink and heart shaped was reached months ago already.  On the 30th of December to be exact.  Three short days after the launch of Valentine’s Day in shops all over the country.  And let’s not forget those fake flowers and horrendous tasting cooking chocolates either.  Heart shaped of course.  Then there’s the nasty candy jelly hearts, and excessively expensive cards proclaiming undying love too.  The list seems never ending.

Now if you’re a chick and you’re reading this, chances are you’re really, really over Valentine’s Day already.  But if you’re a man and you’re reading this, chances are you are even more over it.  If such a thing was even possible.

Yet, given all of the above, the commercialism of it, the hype and the hoopla, the money making ploy, the kitsch, red, fluffy, heart shaped stuff in every single shop, I love Valentine’s Day none the less.  It’s true.  Naff as it is to admit it, I really do.  So go right ahead, mock me if you wish.  I’m uncool and I know it already.

A day dedicated to romance and love is just so sweet and I have been afflicted with a romantic heart for all of my years.  Which makes it doubly hard that my husband does not share my sentiments.  For him, Valentine’s Day is commercial, crappy, corny, cheesy and cheap.  Now I know that intellectually he’s right.  There is no one day for love.  One’s life should be filled with it.  Every single day.  What makes a good romantic partnership is not a fluffy teddy, a bunch of roses, a card declaring love, or some chocolates either.  On simply one day of the year.  A day which is chosen by who exactly?  What makes a good romantic partnership, is being loving and thoughtful towards each other every day.  Of doing something for the one you love because it makes them happy and brings them joy.  It is the ability to set personal feelings aside and do something even if it’s not really your favourite thing to do.  To go the extra mile to make someone else’s life easier.  To show that you care in a myriad of ways.  To be kind and forgiving.  To be generous.  Not with your pocket, but with your heart and your time.

And my Grantie does just that for me because he cares.  Even though it means nothing to him, he knows it means something to me.  And thus, every year, I get a card from him.  Usually some choccies too.  Occasionally flowers or a thoughtful little something.  One year, he bought me a beautiful recipe book (grrrrr!).  Now that I know, was actually about him.  In fact his personal inscription in the book said “Enjoy making fabulous meals from this book”.  He was sooo thinking about his stomach when he bought that little gem for his not-such-a-great-and-adventurous-cook wife.  The point is he tries.  He truly does.

And every year, I get my boys a little something and they (read me) get me something.  And in the same vein, Grant (read me) gets his little princess something small and in return she (read me) gets him something too.  I know that I’m the one getting all of these little trinkets and token chocolates and cards.  Still the kids just love getting them and giving them too.  Predictably Luke is beyond being bothered, but Amber and Cole just love it.  None of them know that I’m the one doing the gift buying for all.  Grant sneaks the boys off and shows them what “they” are giving me.  And I do the same with Amber.  It is really lovely and sweet.  A friend of mine is now in her late thirties, and every year she still gets spoilt by her Dad on Valentine’s day.  So Valentine’s Day is not just a day for romantic love.  It is a day for parental love too.  In fact, it’s just a day for love.  Personally I think the world would be a far better place, if we had more days like these.  Days dedicated to love.

So yesterday was a scorcher of a day and Grant and I flopped around in our little splash pool after work on our own.  The kids were all busy and we had a bit of solo time – bliss!  And so I told him about my inspired idea for Valentine’s gifts for each other.  Words have always meant more to me than anything else.  The card attached to any present is always my best.  Way more special and treasured than any gift could ever be.  Especially if those words come from the heart.  I know it’s true – I’m a bit of a sap.

And so I proposed to him that instead of buying each other chocolates etc., that each of us writes the other a love letter.  I remember those love letters from when we first started dating.  I was still in school and he was not.  He would give them to a friend who was also still in school, who would pass it on to me.  Alternatively he would visit me and stuff a letter in my hand just as he was leaving, with instructions to read it only once he’d gone.  And upon receiving it, I’d be floating all day long.  In fact days afterwards.  I’d read it over and over and over some more.  It would smell like his aftershave and I’d sniff it too.  I would share it with my friends and we’d all ooh and aah about how cute he was.  How sweet.  How handsome.  How amazing.  I still have those letters.

What I wouldn’t do to get another one of those.  A shop bought card is so easy with its trite little words about love.  This would have special meaning.  It is so easy to live past one another.  To get caught up in the daily grind of work, kids and home life.  So easy to drift apart and lose touch, even though you see each other every day.  One bars witness to this every day, as more and more people end up getting divorced or separated.  Splitting up.  And I have no intention of becoming a statistic.

In fact, I thought my idea was inspired.  Pure genius.  It involved no commercialism.  No great expense of money.  No obviously fluffy, red, heart shaped things in sight.

And you know what my Grantie did when I shared my master plan?  He belly laughed till his eyes nearly watered.  He’d far rather pay through his teeth and get me an expensive bunch of roses that would wilt two days later.  He claims he’s not a writer or a blogger, yet a simple ‘I love you for you’, would perfectly suffice.

Still I know this to be true.  He loves me.  Deeply and truly.  He shows me in a million ways, every single day.  He washes my car by hand if it’s dirty.  He fills it with petrol too.  He makes me delicious coffee – just the way I like it.  He is patient when I get lost in a project and doesn’t mind my resulting absorption too much.  He phones me a few times during the course of every single day.  When he eats his beloved wine gum sweets he gives me some of his red and black ones – my favourites.  He doesn’t begrudge me my time with my family and friends.  He understands that I have far greater social needs and that these people are just so important to me in my life.  On many occasions, I visit my Mom with the kids on my own, or we go to Kleinbaai with the family without him.  Work demands his time, yet he is happy for me to go, as he understands that it feeds my soul to be surrounded by those that I love.  He wishes the best for me always and forever.  And I love him for it.

And thus, this morning, we went to the Mall and bought each other a box of Lindor chocolates, that we’ll end up sharing with the kids in any rate.  True love.  Because just as he tries his best for me, I do the same for him.  And therefore for two nights in a row, a tried I new recipe for supper.  The look on his face last night, was worth the effort and time, for he was truly touched.

On the 14th of February 1990, Grant Cloete asked me to be his Valentine and his girlfriend for the very first time.  And I have been just that ever since.  Love you Babe!


  1. Awesome Helene, just for that I will have another chockie!

  2. Ek huil sommer!
    You are a very very special gal, and your Grantie got reallllly lucky!
    And he ain't too shabby either!