So it’s almost Valentine’s Day—
Stop right there! I know you’re rolling your eyes! Yes, those giant Cupids that hang in store windows might be creepy. And yes, your significant other may buy you a vacuum instead of diamonds. But before we, as romance writers and editors, dismiss Valentine’s as a gimmick invented by card companies and florists, consider this.
A couple of weeks ago, my aunt had my grandmother over for dinner. Before they started eating, everyone around the table was encouraged to say something that they were thankful for. My aunt said she was thankful for her family and for being able to go on a trip to the Dominican. My cousins (who are 17 and 15) said they were thankful for the new computers they had got for Christmas. And then it came to my 91-year-old grandmother.
She said she was thankful to have had a wonderful life and to be blessed with a husband she loved dearly. And even though it has been more than 20 years since he passed away, she started to cry.
It was my cousin who told us this story, and she said what struck her in that moment, for the first time in all the seventeen years of her life, was the idea that it was possible to love someone so deeply that even decades after he was gone, my grandmother still missed her husband.
Until then, my cousin had never believed in lifelong love—in happily ever after.
It’s easy in our been-there-done-that culture to think like my cousin, to believe that nothing lasts and that everything, including people, is disposable. It’s easy to be the cynic that rolls her eyes at Cupids and heart-shaped chocolates. But we, as romance novelists and editors, are not about easy, are we?
We are about hope. Not hope for a perfect life, or even a simple one, but for the promise that through the greatest troubles, we will not be alone. Gaining that belief should be the hardest journeys our characters make—after all, isn’t trusting someone else one of the most difficult things we all attempt to do? So it’s our job as writers and editors to really make our characters work for it, to make them struggle as we struggle, to be imperfect as we are imperfect. But of course, ultimately the hero and heroine find what we all hope for—a happily ever after.
So this Valentine’s, if you are tempted to scoff at the sentiment and the hoopla, remember that a happy ending isn’t ever easy, but it’s always worth the journey…even if your husband gives you a vacuum!
Or maybe a vacuum was actually the best Valentine’s present you ever got. What are some of your favorite Valentine’s moments?