Why I keep Valentine’s Day low-key

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter –  Issue 5, January 31, 2020

by Columnist Tom Blake

There are 3 parts to today’s eNewsletter

                          Part One – Why I keep Valentine’s Day low-key

Recently, a buddy said, “As the On Life and Love After 50 columnist, what plans do you have for you and Greta to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?”

I think he expected to hear me describe something fancy such as a romantic evening for us at one of the nearby 5-star hotels. Two of them, the Monarch Beach Resort, and, the Ritz Carlton, are within walking distance of our Monarch Beach, California, home.

I hadn’t thought about our plans for Valentine’s Day—Greta and I hadn’t even discussed it–so I replied, “We’ll probably stay home.”

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow.

I added, “We might splurge by preparing a lobster dinner with spinach salad, and sip on a glass of Churn, my favorite chardonnay, topped off with a piece or two of See’s candy. We’ll probably be in the sack by 10 p.m.

  House rule: Maximum two pieces per person per box opening

Surprised at the modest plan, he questioned, “Churn chardonnay?”

“Yup, my favorite chardonnay,” I said. “Seven bucks a bottle at Trader Joe’s.”

I added, “I’ve never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Granted, it’s good for the economy. However, greeting-card companies, restaurants, candy makers and flower shops mount such an overwhelming marketing blitz, I feel it takes some of the romance out of Valentine’s Day.

“Similar to New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day can make people without a mate lonelier than they already are. That’s why I avoid making Valentine’s Day a big deal in my columns. I don’t want the lonely people to feel worse.”

My friend’s questions reminded me that when I was younger, I experienced some lonely Valentine’s Days.

In a column I wrote in 1996, I said this about that day:

“I’ve taken a few romantic hits lately: divorce, rejection, etc. Funny how sometimes life drags us through the gutter before it starts to improve.

“But, even though there’s no one special in my life on this 1996 Valentine’s Day, most importantly, I have my health, a nice roof over my head, and a job where I can eat when I’m hungry (that’s when I owned Tutor and Spunky’s Deli in Dana Point).”

In June, 1998, two years after writing that article, I met Greta, so the “no one special in my life” situation changed.

To Greta and me, every day is Valentine’s Day, so we don’t make a big deal out of February 14. We appreciate very much what we have.

We both enjoy great families, and lots of wonderful friends. And nice readers like you.

I think the most thoughtful thing people can do on Valentine’s Day is to reach out to those who may be spending the day alone. They might be lonely. Invite them to join you and your friends for lunch or dinner. Share the love of the day with them.

And look after them the rest of the year. Loneliness isn’t just a Valentine’s Day reality. It’s year around.

The best thing about Valentine’s Day—it’s a day of giving, just like Thanksgiving–making other people feel special and loved.

Oh, and by the way, a rose or an orchid is always appreciated.

                           Yellow rose from my garden this week

                                   Part 2 – Devastated – Losing Kobe Bryant

I try to always put a positive spin on these eNewsletters. But, this week, it’s been a challenge. On Sunday morning, at home, I was walking down the steps from upstairs, when Greta looked at me sadly. I knew something was wrong. She shared news that rocked me to my core: “Kobe has been killed in a crash.”

Kobe Bryant, to us, was, of course, a person who gave us years of basketball enjoyment with the LA Lakers. But much more than that, he was an incredible human being with ties to our little city of Dana Point. He and Vanessa were married in St. Edwards Catholic Church here. Kobe is a household word in Southern California, especially in Los Angeles and Orange County.

He was kind, humble and loved children. He gave to many charities.

And the eight others who also died in that helicopter crash were all from Orange County—including Kobe’s daughter and the baseball coach at Orange Coast College, and that coach’s family and a few of his friends.

I will never forget where I was when I heard the Kobe news–coming down my steps at home. I’ve never forgotten where I was when Greta informed me about 9-11, or when I was in the engine room of the USS Noble off the coast of Guam during the Viet Nam War when the news of JFK’s passing was announced over the ship’s speakers.

So, excuse me for getting personal today. You are my friends and I wanted to share that with you.