If December is the most wonderful time of the year, February is certainly the loveliest (pun intended).

Not for its chalk-tasting conversational heart candies, or the explosion of amorous, inescapable advertising, or the rapid interest in florists and sweet confections – these are but mere distractions from the essence of February’s focus.

Ours is a busy world, and the mental gymnastics it takes for us to cycle through the day-to-day should be reminder enough of what holidays and other observed days of designation are all about – to slow down enough that we can reflect and appreciate.

Sandra Bullock’s cover story quote, which graces the Jan. 2014 issue of Entertainment Weekly, gave me such a moment of reflection recently.

While hunkered down in the kitchen at our office, waiting for the percolator to brew my good mood juice, I read these words:

“Life is a series of disastrous moments, painful moments, unexpected moments, and things that will break your heart,” she said. “And in between those moments, that’s when you savor, savor, savor.”

Sandra, I already liked you. Now, I like you even more.

Not because your truth is particularly eloquent, but it is truth, sans the BS.

None of us should need the retail trappings of Valentine’s Day kitsch to feel loved.

Does a vase of red roses insulate us from disaster, from pain, from unexpected heartbreak?

Hardly. No more than a box of Whitmann’s can guarantee happiness and fulfillment. Ok – it does, but only in a fleeting, then depressing, now I need to go work out again kind of way.

Sandra’s words were a reminder to me to savor the sweetness of life’s unscripted moments of joy, and to be sure not to miss them in the midst of moments that make my head spin.

In 2002, shortly after I became engaged, my mom and I were in the throes of early stage wedding planning, when bridal fantasy meets budget reality, and parental-child relations harken back a bit to the teenage years. I know our experience not to be unique, based on the number of times I heard people tell me, “Don’t worry. If you can get through planning a wedding, you can get through anything.” (Clearly these “wise” friends of mine hadn’t yet entered parenthood).

Shortly after my mom and I had a meeting of the minds, she gave me a book that was essentially about what it means to be a bride, and that the most dangerous word to a bride’s happiness was also the word that engaged young women most frequently uttered.

“Perfect.”

As in, “I want everything to be perfect.”

As it turns out, my wedding day was perfect, but not because of the flower arrangements, or the band, or the food, or the photographer, or the bustle of my dress, or the car we left the reception in, or any of those other details. These elements were lovely in their own regard, but they are not what I remember.

The day was perfect for its in-between moments, which, nearly 11 years later, I still savor. It was perfect for the way my mom looked at me in the dressing room, held my hands and with tears in her eyes (she never, ever, ever cries), told me I am beautiful. It was perfect for the way my Daddy squeezed my hand while we awaited our turn in the church narthex, and afterward at the reception, when he told me what he felt watching Rett and me say our vows to each other. It was perfect that my husband of about three hours had our limo driver pull over at the Vestavia Walgreen’s so we could hop out and buy fresh batteries for our good old Kodak EasyShare point and shoot, that decided, most inconveniently, to die while we were en route to the Tutwiler.

If red roses, clever cards and chocolates are a favorite part of your Valentine’s Day, I wish that for you. But when the vase water turns murky, the card sentiments have lost their luster and the chocolate box is down to just those coconut-filled ones that taste awful, savor what is special, and what has staying power in your life.

For that, you can thank Sandra.

 

Cheers,

Rebecca