Since we have just celebrated the holiday, allow me to explain why Valentine’s Day has lost some of its appeal for me. In spite of the fact that I dearly love chocolate, Russell Stover being my preference, I am at the age that I can no longer pretend that calories and sugar don’t count if consumed on a holiday. My doctor has been telling me that for years—though, just between you and me, I believe she’s opposed to anything that makes me happy, like not exercising.
Since I can’t indulge in my favorite heart-shaped box of chocolates, the other customary gifts usually chosen by our significant others are flowers, perfume and jewelry. My allergies preclude having cut flowers in the house, so that eliminates the roses I adore, along with perfume or anything scented, such as candles. As for jewelry, I rarely wear the pieces I already have, choosing instead to wear only my wedding ring and earrings. Earrings are something that my son knows I will wear, so he’s been giving me those for years and I have a great collection. This leaves very little for my husband to choose from on gift giving occasions.
Still, being a dutiful husband, every year he covers his bases on holidays, especially Valentine’s Day, by asking me if there’s anything in particular that I would like. And every year my reply is the same: “Just get me a card, and write something mushy in it.” Making certain to remember to take me out to dinner to celebrate, my plea for no gifts actually worked until last year.
Walking into the house with his hand behind his back and a silly grin on his face, I instantly knew he was up to something. He presented me with a card, which I opened and read right away. The verse was lovely, but not as lovely as the note that he had written below it. Then, beaming as though he had just purchased a Lamborghini, he handed me what was behind his back—something he was certain would make me smile. It was a stuffed dog!
When I was young, my siblings and I longed for a pet. Our parents, however, were not in favor of getting us one, most likely because they knew they’d ultimately be left to care for it. Consequently, every Christmas I asked for a stuffed animal and, in my vivid imagination, those toys took the place of the pets I was not allowed to have. Needless to say, I have since made up for the lack of pets during my childhood.
Even so, I never outgrew my love of stuffed animals and years later when Beanie Babies became so popular, collecting them was all the excuse I needed to fill a large barrister bookcase. A similar one holds another collection of life-size cats made by the same company and other assorted animals. My Valentine dog joined the menagerie.
As an author of Austen inspired fiction, I have often thought that if the celebration of Valentine’s Day was as influenced by advertising during the Regency era as it is today, it would be amusing to write. I can imagine writing a scene where Darcy must create a card for Elizabeth, complete with original poetry, or rush to a confectionery shop to buy chocolates, all because he forgot it was Valentine’s Day. Bingley might see the huge heart-shaped box of candy that Darcy bought for Elizabeth and rush out to purchase an even larger one for Jane. It’s such fun to imagine the competition between the men in an effort to impress their ladies. I bet even Wickham could come up with a fitting Valentine present if the acquisition of a young lady’s fortune hung in the balance.
As it is, I’ve written only one story that references the holiday and that’s a modern short story hidden somewhere on my computer. I did, however, write a conversation in my latest novel, Darcy and Elizabeth – A Most Unlikely Couple, that I think would be fitting for Valentine’s Day.
~~~~* * *~~~~~* * *~~~~~
“Oh, Will,” was all she managed to say before their lips met.
William ended the kiss, whispering, “I need to retrieve something from my bedroom. Do not move.”
“I do not think I shall be going anywhere, the way I am dressed,” Elizabeth teased, holding the sheet back.
By then William was donning his robe and glanced to her display. Sucking in his breath, he said, “If you keep that up, I shall never leave this room again.”
Despite what he said, he did hurry from the room and in only seconds returned with a mysterious smile on his face and a hand hidden behind his back.
Elizabeth smiled mischievously. “Just what are you hiding, Mr. Darcy?”
“Close your eyes and you will learn soon enough.” She did as asked and felt the bed settle as he sat back down on it. “Now you may open them.”
Elizabeth sat speechless, blinking steadily at an exquisite, gold wedding band. It was wide enough that words had been engraved on it and a diamond had been sunk into the space between each word.
He chuckled. “Have you nothing to say?”
“I . . . it is so beautiful that words fail me.”
“Read the inscription.”
As she read the words aloud, her eyes filled with tears and her voice choked. “First . . . Last . . . Only . . . Always.”
“I wanted my feelings toward you inscribed on your ring for the entire world to see. You are my one and only love, now and forever.”
~~~~* * *~~~~~* * *~~~~~
Since this post was written before Valentine’s Day, I have no way of knowing what I’ll get from my Mr. Darcy this year—perhaps just a card with a personal note. If so, I’ll cherish it, for whether it’s a sentimental card or a silly stuffed animal, nothing can take the place of someone expressing how much you mean to them.
I hope that someone in your life thought of the perfect way to make you smile.
P.S. Darcy and Elizabeth – A Most Unlikely Couple was published in November and I hope to make you smile by giving away two copies, your choice of kindle e-book or paperback. Just leave a comment on this same blog on Austen Authors site and tell me that you want to be included in the drawing. Giveaway closes midnight Saturday (CST).