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A Life of Valentine’s Days

Ah, Valentine’s Day – perhaps one of the most dynamic “holidays,” if only because it means so many different things to so many different people, and at different times in their lives. There are some outliers who have declared absolute love or hate for the day no matter their relationship status over the years, but most of us are subject to the whims of the heart when it comes to our appreciation (or loathing) of cupid. For most of us, it all started in some classroom with a ham-fisted explanation of St. Valentine … <ol style="list-style-type: none;"> <li><strong>1.       </strong><strong>Shoebox Love</strong></li> </ol> Depending on your school and the practices of the time, you may have been exposed to some variation of a tradition wherein you tarted up a shoebox so your classmates could slip valentines into it, and vice versa. You stood and watched as your fate literally fell through a slim cardboard crack. For many, this may have been <strong><em>the</em></strong> formative Valentine’s Day experience upon which all future experiences are now judged. Try to remember the time you opened that valentine from your secret crush. Did it mention “cooties?” If so, you’re not alone. <ol style="list-style-type: none;"> <li><strong>2.      </strong><strong>Adolescent Horror</strong></li> </ol> Looking back, it’s (hopefully) easy for most of us to place our volcanic reactions to our first brush with “true love” into context. Hyper-charged hormones could turn Valentine’s Day into a dazzling moment of bliss, or a screaming eagle of pain that ripped your heart from your chest with poison-tipped talons. Biology and commercialism erase the middle ground for teens. You're either in love, out of love or seething on the sidelines, and too young to understand how quickly things can go from bad to worse. <ol style="list-style-type: none;"> <li><strong>3.      </strong><strong>Love, Rediscovered   </strong></li> </ol> It’s easy to be a cynic when it comes to love as a young adult and indifference is almost expected at Valentine’s Day, especially for those in relationships who have to console single friends. “It's just a fake holiday created by greeting-card companies to make money,” becomes the mantra of the disillusioned. Ironically, though, this is also the time when most people are first exposed to actual love in a mature way. Notions of compromise and selflessness begin to color what up to now has been a mad scramble for personal gratification. That’s the hope, anyway. <ol style="list-style-type: none;"> <li><strong>4.      </strong> <strong>Real Love, Real Life</strong></li> </ol> At long last, this is the stage at which a mortgage (perhaps underwater), kids and a crummy job all get prioritized far ahead of some silly half-baked holiday. Real life comes with real problems that can't be fixed with a million flowers, much less a dozen. But, it may also be the time when you realize you really do need someone; someone to help carry in the groceries, put the kids to bed and tell you that everything is going to be alright in the morning. And, maybe that’s what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about. Well, that and flowers, fellas. Carrying in the groceries is sweet, but if that's your trump card you should prepare for annihilation. <a href="http://www.atgstores.com/">ATGStores.com</a> wishes everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day.
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