My husband and I have been married for forty-seven years. I had to do the mental math to figure out that number because it's hard to believe I've lived that long with the same person. I won't say it's always been easy or a bed of roses, but we've worked at it and refused to give up on it when times got tough. And there have been some serious rough patches. We've worked out compromises, learned to live with each other's flaws, and continue to love each other despite differences of opinion on lots of issues.
Thinking back over the years, the way we've celebrated Valentine's Day is a reflection of the progression of our marriage.
Then kids came along. I stopped working for a while to raise them (and also to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life - but that's a difference post for a different time), he had a bottom-rung job, and we were too poor to do anything but exchange cards - sometimes with a bit of chocolate or a bottle of inexpensive wine attached.
The kids grew up, went off to college, our job situations improved, and the cards got fancier, the chocolate more elaborate, and often were accompanied by flowers or some other nice gift. We even went back to the nice dinners out.
Now my husband is retired and I've cut back work to part-time. He has discovered a love for cooking and prefers to create his own special meals for us, so we don't go out as much.
A few years ago he came up with the perfect Valentine's Day gift for me.
Baseball diamonds, to be exact.
One of the things that has united us for all these years is that we're both sports fans. We met while we were both undergraduates at Duke and many of our early dates involved sporting events there. I have some great memories of those times. (And one not-so-great memory, but that's a post for another time.) We've continued to enjoy a shared love for Duke sports, pro football (WhooHoo, Patriots!), college basketball, and baseball.
We've managed to get to a few major league games in Atlanta and Washington, which are both within driving distance, though it's a pretty long drive. But that's expensive and time-consuming and the seats aren't always great.
More often we go to minor league games right here in our home town. The city built a classy new baseball stadium a few years ago that is easy to get to, charges very reasonable prices for seats, and has lots of food and drink options. Our team is a class-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins and a lot of their top talent has passed through here on the way to the majors. We've seen Marcel Ozuna, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto and the late Jose Fernandez play. Giancarlo Stanton still holds the record for the longest home run ever hit out of our park, one of the 39 home runs he hit during his one season with our team. Being minor league match-ups they aren't always the prettiest games, but they're always fun.
So now my hubby gives me baseball diamonds for Valentine's Day, usually in the form of a package of tickets for various games during the season. As the cliché goes, it's a gift that keeps on giving. I love it! And I love him for thinking to do it.