Words to Learn From

Words to Learn From

Expensive Valentine's Day Lesson

I remember Valentine’s Day from elementary school—over 60 years ago in 1950—when all the kids would make paper valentines in class at school and we would take them home to our mothers. Strangely enough, I don’t remember much at all about the intervening years between then and many years later when I was married. My love life was either pretty poor or I wasn’t much of a romantic—I guess both are pretty much the same—but I am certain that not as much commercial attention was directed to Valentine’s Day then, as it is now.

I met my future wife in the early 70’s and was married a short while later. By then the commercial engine was revving up and Valentine’s Day was rapidly becoming the nation’s biggest spending holiday behind Christmas. I may not have been cognizant of Valentine’s Day early in life, but as a newlywed, it had my full attention now.

Of course, our first Valentine’s Day together came shortly after my wife and I were married. We were still in that magical glow of the promise and excitement of our future together—and actually still are—so I went all out and bought, actually charged on a credit card, an expensive tennis bracelet that was very popular at the time.

My wife and I were both employed and she picked me up downtown, every day immediately after she got off work. I immediately took her to a steak house and we went all out ordering everything we wanted. I charged the bill on my credit card.

Immediately after leaving the restaurant and driving home, I presented her with the tennis bracelet which, of course, she loved.

I was surprised when she had a gift for me. I tore open the wrapping and was pleasantly surprised to find a stainless steel Mini-14 carbine—after all, we live in Texas—and I too, of course, loved it. She charged it on a credit card.

The point of this story is that the first real Valentine’s Day that I really experienced put me and my wife in serious debt which actually required several years to pay off—interest rates at that time ran over 20 to 25 per cent.

At least we learned, and future Valentine’s Days were more about the celebration than the presents. We cooked at home instead of charging a meal at a restaurant; gave each other a nice card and small gift and then entertained each other after that.

These are words to learn from, for young lovers everywhere.