Yes, I admit, I saved that exact card and gave it to him again the very next year and once again the year after.
I had a certain method to my madness. After Valentine's Day, I carefully and quietly removed the card from display on the mantel. I then neatly tucked it back into the envelope from which it came and filed it away in a folder appropriately labeled: "Valentine's Day Cards."
O.K. What about the envelope? Well, I never licked the envelope. Instead, I tucked the seal inside.
I know you are probably wondering about the date on the card. Well, I didn't date it.
It is not that I am cheap or insensitive. It's not that at all.
Every year as Valentine's Day approaches, I usually start very early in January to find just the right card for Brian.
As soon as cupids and big hearts appear in the stores, I begin mining my way through the Valentines. Pulling up card after card, I read through dozens of half-hearted expressions scripted by nameless, faceless people. Thirty minutes later, I walk away empty-handed.
Back when I finally did find the perfect card with just the right words describing exactly what we have between us, I could not let it get away. I had to hold onto it. I had to reuse it.
My hunch was that Brian would never notice. In fact, I didn't share my little secret with him until now.
"You did?" he said, when he read my confession.
"Yes," I shyly confirmed with a co-mingling of shameful guilt and boastful pride.
His blank stare filled my computer screen.
"Really?" he asked in disbelief.
"Really." I searched his eyes for understanding, for knowing that my recycling was truly about love.
Honest, that was my only string of recycled Valentines. Now, when I find cards that capture what I really mean to say, I have a slightly more honorable approach. I stock up.
This year, I bought three cards, so I am set through to the year 2010. These Valentines are perfect. Like the one I am giving to him today: "Without you my life would be incomplete."
A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
© 2008 Paula Damon