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Cupid's Arrow: Bent not Broken
By Christine Louise Hohlbaum

Valentine's Day is a touchy subject with me. It is not that my husband forgets to honor our love on that day. In fact, he is better at remembering Valentine's Day than he is at remembering our anniversary. Perhaps I should consider making our anniversary a National Hallmark holiday with lots of billboards and other advertising to help the poor guy recall the day we became husband and wife. No matter. We have Cupid's celebration for which he can ramp up his adoration for me.

The reason for my apprehension about mid-February's day of romance is quite simple: plants. It was a linguistic misunderstanding, a cross-cultural faux pas that has stuck in my mind for over a decade. You see, my husband is German, and in the beginning of our relationship, my German wasn't that great.

As February 14th neared that first year of our courtship, I suggested to my then boyfriend that Americans celebrate the holiday with flowers. It would be useful if he would remember that. I really thought I had gotten through to him. Without belabouring the point, I would occasionally point out the red hearts and bow and arrow decorations that ornately hung in the shop windows. I would then reiterate my love for flowers and how special a woman feels when she receives them.

Had I been a bit more vigilant in my undertaking, the holiday wouldn't have turned out as it did. The German word Blumen means both flowers and plants. As I continually mentioned my interest in Blumen, my husband, a biologist by trade, had nodded with great understanding. After many other language barriers had been crossed, it seemed as if I were finally talking his lingo. As Valentine's Day arrived, my excited boyfriend presented me with a spider plant wrapped in light green cellophane. You know which kind of plant I mean: the unkillable kind that has lots of babies, the kind that would even survive while you're away on your six-week African safari.

In that moment, I couldn't help but show my disappointment.

"Flowers! I meant flowers!" I said in English to him in a rather unkind, obnoxious manner. For a moment, it appeared as if he were going to snatch the plant away from me. I peered down at the lovely wrapping job that he had so painstakingly done and smiled.

"But I suppose plants last longer, huh?" I placed the plant on our sunny windowsill.

I chose to look at our first Valentine's Day this way: he thinks our love will result in an unshakeable marriage with lots of kids. After all, isn't that what a spider plant symbolizes?

We now have two children, and we have been married ten years. While our spider plant did not survive our multiple moves, the lesson that it brought us has remained. Perhaps my husband knew what I meant all along, and he chose a different path for our love, one which lasts for more than just one day in February.

See Also:

Lost and Found (A Valentine's Day Story)
For years I've been under the impression that the man didn't have a nerve in his body — that nothing ever rattled him. And now this. Then again, it also means that I have discovered one more reason to admire my husband. Even when he's rattled, he can still think calmly in a crisis.

True Romance for Couples with Kids: 10 Inexpensive Ideas
Anyone can splurge on a formal dinner or a pricey bottle of perfume, but it takes creativity, forethought, and time to be truly romantic. Here are 10 ideas to get you started...

Valentine's Day — Where Did That Come From?
I discovered that Valentine’s is not a holiday that was “invented” by greeting card companies to sell more greeting cards or by candy companies to sell more candy or by florists to sell more roses. Valentine’s Day actually started more than 1,500 years ago.

(c) 2004 Christine Louise Hohlbaum, All Rights Reserved.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, has been published in over one-hundred forty publications. When she isn't writing, editing her ezine, Powerful Families, Powerful Lives, or leading toddler playgroups, she prefers to frolic in the Bavarian countryside near Munich where she lives with her husband and two children . Visit her Web site: www.diaryofamother.com

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