Monday, February 14, 2011

Colander Valentine

A simple metal colander, its drainage holes forming stars around its sides and bottom, is a source of embarrassment and shame for me. It was a Valentine - an ill-conceived one at that. For in an early year of our marriage, with the romanticism of youth and the one-upmanship chatter of co-workers echoing in my head, I shamed my husband into getting me something on that day. And so he (in desperation, I’m sure) searched the small general store in our rural community for a gift and returned home with that. It was not a big hit.

In grade school, I cut a slit in the lid of a cardboard shoe box, decorated it at home, and toted it to school for the long-awaited Valentine’s Day party. Near the end of the long day, we took turns playing postman to deliver our valentine cards to each other’s boxes. There were no rules on who you gave cards to; it was your choice. Paper darts stabbed deep - the popular, well-liked kids got many; some went home feeling dejected. That’s just the way it was.

Years later I attended our son’s 4th grade Valentine’s party and things had changed. Each child brought cards and had to give one to every child in the class. Gifts for special friends were allowed, however, and some received stuffed toys or large, helium-filled balloons. Competition had just been cranked up a notch or two.

In my growing-up years, Valentine’s day was no big deal for adults. My parents were busy selling floral arrangements (to men, mostly), but my dad did bring home the requisite heart-shaped box of chocolates. My husband remembers nothing special, so we two never made much of that day either. We exchanged cards sometimes, if we remembered, and let it go at that. Until that day when I thought I needed more...

Now stores fill their shelves with marvelous have-to-haves. Red and white and hearts abound - everything from boxer shorts and fancy lingerie to stuffed monkeys and marshmallow candies are covered with them. While working in a local floral shop a few years back, I decided it had all gone way too far. On Valentine’s Day, men lined up four deep to buy the highly-coveted dozen roses. The closer we came to closing, the shorter tempers became, especially if, heaven forbid, we ran out of roses. Some did plan ahead, ordering far in advance, writing thoughtful cards, and requesting early delivery. But for many, it seemed a real chore - one more thing they were expected to do to prove their love for the ladies in their lives. Even that did not always work. I remember one irate recipient who, when we couldn’t deliver to her work before she left for the day, refused the flowers completely. We offered to deliver to her home, but that wouldn’t do. She needed them at her office or not at all. And all in the name of love - poor guy.

Just how does one show their love for another? I value kindness and respect, especially when there are obvious differences of opinion. The surprise of a long overdue home repair or a new creation in wood is deeply appreciated, as is a wake-up cup of coffee served in bed. Romanticism definitely has its place and dinner out is nice, but often just sharing the load is a true treasure - like cleaning up after a meal - and, yes, that does include the old colander with stars on the side.

God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
In this way, love is made complete among us...
We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:16 and 19


  1. the problem with 'holidays'...sometimes it seems as though the ONLY reason for a holiday is to buy a gift...buy a card...
    that's what all the stores want you to think...they try to make us materialistic...to feel guilty.
    well, it didn't work. not on me.

    the gift of a hug. friendship. something handmade. from the heart....YOU got it! :]laura

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Laura. It just really all blows my mind and I see it getting bigger & bigger - all the marketing, all the "junk", all from overseas...our local people are out of work, our landfills are bulging, and so many don't seem to even notice.Those of us who see another way are gradually increasing, tho, so I am ever hopeful.

  3. That's a BEAUTIFUL colander. I'd say it was a very thoughtful gift, and it's obviously endured through the years.

  4. How right you are, Sherrie, on both points. It is a source of MY embarassment and shame, not my husband's, for I remember what a stinker I was back then on this particular occasion! I was young & foolish & wanted something I perceived as "romantic" - and that wasn't it in my mind. I love the colander and it's been with us for around 40 years now, so it definitely was a great gift - no chocolates last that long, that's for sure! Thanks for your insightful comment!