There are times when familiarity is comforting. Perhaps it is because in this lifestyle I don't have too many constants. So, the little things often become more comforting than they ordinarily would be. Right now I am sitting on the coach next to my husband with the NBA All-Star game playing and it just feels comfortable. Sure, we are watching it one day late, in Polish, with sub par videography, but nonetheless, it feels normal. Even the pack of "black five" cookies (a.k.a. fake oreos) we just finished up seemed normal. (And yes, you probably guessed right... there are five per pack. What clever marketing.)
All this leads me to Valentine's Day. No matter where we are in the world, we try to celebrate. Valentine's Day isn't hugely popular in Europe, which is actually quite nice as things are absurdly overpriced. I still remember John bringing me two dozen beautiful roses the first year we were married. I am not sure who was more excited, John thanks to the good deal he got, or me because I had never received two dozen roses before, let alone on Valentine's Day.
Holidays in general are comforting to me though- they come every year and each year evoke memories of holidays past. They are familiar to me, even if every year does look a bit different depending on where we are living.
This year was a two day celebration. John had the day before Valentine's Day off, so we celebrated with dinner that evening. John, bless his heart, had scheduled a surprise visit to the spa, but I opted for a trip to the salon instead. (Sitting up for an entire massage just sounded more awkward than relaxing, but it was definitely the thought that counted.) We both ended up getting our hair cut at the same time which made for an interesting scenario as Kaleb patiently watched us getting our hair shampooed from his stroller. Later, John said he looked over at Kaleb, who wasn't making a sound.... and he had little tears rolling down his cheeks. Sweet boy was too shy to make a peep but ended up being perfectly content once he was given some goldfish crackers to snack on.
I know I am biased, but I find my boys to be oh so handsome.
Celebrating with a toddler in tow may not have been the most romantic of dates, but it was special nonetheless, with each of his little smiles reminding us of just how blessed we are to have welcomed this little guy into the world together with another on the way.
John was sweet and brought home roses after his practice on Valentine's Day. One rose for each Valentine's Day we have celebrated together, which happens to be 13. I am one blessed lady.
It is hard to imagine that twelve years ago a nervous junior in high school appeared on my doorstep early on Valentine's Day morning with three red roses ready to take me out to breakfast before school started. Who would have known back then what this journey would hold... only God, that is for sure.
Kaleb was old enough to start a new tradition this year: decorating sugar cookies. He just kept getting the shaker stuck on the frosting.
So, I put them on the plate... until he discovered he could eat them. He was so happy eating the sprinkles that I didn't even bother letting him try the cookie. One day he will realize what he is missing out on, but for now he doesn't seem to care, does he?
Familiarity can be found in a number of places. The grocery store worker that you know speaks English, seeing someone you know in a shopping center (which is rare for me over here), or feeling welcomed at the local cafe. We discovered this quaint little "literary cafe" around the corner when we first arrived but kept procrastinating our visit as we explored other places. Now I wish we would have frequented this place long ago as Kaleb is only getting harder to contain these days.
I think it is all a balance. Exploration versus comfort. There are times when we need to step outside of what is comfortable as it stretches us and makes us more aware of the culture around us. There are other times when it is nice to find something that later become familiar territory. Valentine's Day was memorable for so many reasons this year. It was the perfect balance of trying a new fancy restaurant one night while I surprised John with one of his favorite meals the next night. And honestly? Our dinner "in" was just as special as our dinner "out." Really, it is just special to be able to celebrate, no matter how, or when, or where.