Memories Spend Better Than Money
by C. Kevin Thompson
If only Hallmark had followed historical tradition when they began mass-producing paper cards in 1913. We might have a different outlook on February 14 today.1
Despite the pagan festivals and sainthood of three men named Valentinius, we like to romanticize the holiday here in the 20th century with cards, candy, dinner and um…well, love. That’s if you’re married or dating, of course. If you’re single and have no significant other at this time of year, then the holiday is not-so-lovingly referred to as Singles Awareness Day, or SAD.
Could it be the holiday has ballooned into the commercial endeavor it is today because the focus is all wrong? If your “go-to, last minute” heartfelt affection materializes as a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers from your favorite vendor, a card with a sappy saying and dinner at an upscale restaurant, then may I say it?
You’ve fallen prey to the hype.
You are part of the $20 billion problem.2 Don’t fret, though. We’ve all played a role in the billion-dollar proliferation that is Valentine’s Day. We’re all guilty. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I learned a lesson a long time ago and have tried to remember it over the years. Valentine’s Day adopts new meaning when I focus on making memories instead of trying to outspend and upstage the Joneses.
With my wife’s birthday also on Valentine’s Day, I’ve always had to be a little more creative than the next guy. Yet, she tells me the most memorable gifts for her find themselves wrapped in deed rather than greed. Wrapped in thoughtful preparation more than bows, paper and curly ribbon.
For example, one day several years ago, on my way home from work, I passed a massive patch of wildflowers along the side of the highway. I had no idea what kinds were represented, but the reds, oranges, blues and yellows complimented each other in the bright sunshine. So, I stopped. It only took ten minutes to pick a huge arrangement, and to this day, my wife still remembers the event in detail.
Yet, all the other times I bought—no, overpaid—for roses in a fancy vase (pronounced “voz” while your nose is elevated) have become a memory, too—a distant one. All the funny “gifts,” like the yellow coffee cup with the big smiley face on it, have made their way to the Goodwill’s of the world. All the fancy dinners at the “Valentine’s approved” restaurants have come and gone, and she doesn’t remember much about any of them. However, those flowers from the side of the road, which cost the least monetarily speaking, accrued the most interest in her banking system. Why? Because of the memory they produced.
When planning your Valentine’s Day festivities this year, ask yourself these questions:
How well do you know your spouse (if you’re married) or your spice (if you’re not)? Gifts that focus more on your mate’s likes and tastes rather than the Day’s meaning always are the best. The cookouts around a fire pit. The long walks on that proverbial beach, followed by an unexpected picnic. The road trip to a restaurant, wearing a blindfold to add to the mystery, are just a few things that don’t cost a fortune, but make memories that last.
What is your reason for celebrating Valentine’s Day? If it’s to race through the meal, get the gifts opened, only so you can get to the “love” portion, then your deeds will be shouted from the rooftops. Actually nothing conveys the opposite meaning of this holiday more than the “bait-n-switch” approach. Memories, however, come from a heart of a gentleman or a lady. They come from a heart of self-effacing love of a spouse (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33). It should be about your spouse or spice, not you.
Is Valentine’s Day just a special day, or is it a spotlight on an already existing, growing relationship? Another thing my wife and I have done over the years is play a game. We used to play rummy a lot. One day, shortly after we were married, we finished a game to five hundred points, and I said, “Hey, let’s not stop and start over. Let’s keep going.” Now, over 35 years later, although it’s been a while since we played, we have an ongoing rummy game wherein both of us have eclipsed 50,000 points (she’s ahead by about 2,000 points, by the way). It might be the longest-running rummy game in the world. But we’re not trying to make the Guinness Book of World Records. We’re making memories that started long before Valentine’s Day and continue long after February.
If you’re single, are you looking for a memorable Valentine’s Day date? Or are you willing to settle? Because of the marketing of this holiday, you are often made to feel like a loser. Don’t fall prey to the hype. How many relationships do you know that started a month or two before Valentine’s Day and ended shortly after? That’s because those folks were more about living the hype of the Day than developing memories that could morph into a lifetime. Don’t allow February 14 to be sad. Don’t allow it to be sensationalized. Look for the right mate. Pray for God’s will. Plan on how you will make some memories when the time is right. The kind that last. Prepare yourself now for the mate God has picked out for you. That way, when God delivers, you’ll be ready to start filling the memory basket.
Memories are rooted in the heart of God. How many times did He say, “Do this in remembrance of me” or “Hold this festival so that you may remember”? Memories are about relationships. And for a man and woman who have recited (or are possibly going to say) words like “until death do us part” and “for better or for worse,” doesn’t it stand to reason to build a relationship that can withstand the test of time?
C. Kevin Thompson is an ordained minister with a B.A. in Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). His book 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1 is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, will be available for pre-order February 2017. The Serpent’s Grasp, a standalone, is coming May 2017. Book 3 of the Blake Meyer Series, The Tide of Times, is coming August 2017.
You can visit Kevin at www.ckevinthompson.com
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com
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