Well, what can I say about February? For one thing, up here in the Northern Hemisphere we are starting to see a little more daylight, which is lovely at the end of the workday. It’s the month when I think, “Hang on, spring is almost here”. But, like January, it’s still a bit grey and drizzly outside and we all need some special days to look forward to. After a little digging, I found out that there are quite a few days in February to celebrate. Just to name a few …
February 1 is Chinese New Year, marking the Lunar New Year, as well as National Dark Chocolate Day (what a sweet day!).
February 2 is Groundhog Day. Six more weeks of winter or maybe winter will quit early …
February 3 is National Carrot Cake Day. This is good for my friend Joanne, who is a carrot cake aficionado.
February 8 is National Opera Day. This is particularly special for me as my niece Mikayla was just hired by the San Francisco Opera Company. Brava Mikayla!
February 13 is World Radio Day (yay CBC!).
February 18 is National Wine Drinking Day (with some delicious cheese and a baguette please!).
February 20 is National Love Your Pet Day. This won’t be hard for my grandsons, who just got two little kittens (Woodlock and Miu Miu).
February 22 is World Thinking Day, which is a day for girl guides and reminds me of my own childhood days as a guide.
And, of course, there is Valentine’s Day on February 14 (preceded by the only slightly less well known Galentine’s Day on February 13 – thank you Tina Fey!).
Valentine’s Day can sometimes get a bad rap as overly sentimental and commercialized. The day can also feel like a lot of pressure for people. But, while I am admittedly a bit of a mush and so a natural lover of the day, I think Valentine’s needs to be re-imagined as more than a day for young sweethearts and puppy love.
First of all, Valentine’s Day is bound to be stressful if it’s the only day we tell the people in our lives (our parents, friends, pets, kids, partners etc.) that we love them. I think the best policy is to take every opportunity to say “I love you”. Again, I am a mush and come from a long line of sentimental, hugging sort of people. But, I have never found that saying “I love you” diminishes the importance of those words. Love doesn’t need to be rationed; it isn’t finite. So, my motto is never to be stingy with my love, and instead to give it freely every day, including on Valentine’s Day.
And, of course, love comes in so many different packages. Some of the dearest loves of my life are my friends, a number of whom have been with me since childhood - including the incomparable Sa Boothroyd! Besides growing up together on the North Shore, Sa and I were roommates in our early twenties and have been fellow craftspeople and friends for our whole adult lives. We still chat on the phone almost daily at around 6 in the morning while we drink our first cups of tea.
While it didn’t happen on Galentine’s Day, back in our roommate days, Sa made one of the best Valentine-esque grand gestures I have ever received! At that time, I was a big fan of the colour red (I still am actually) and one of my favourite sayings was, “I am committed to red”. Red has always symbolized more than just romantic love for me. It also represents passion, courage and joie de vivre. Back in my early twenties, one of the slightly less joyful parts of my life was my long commute to Simon Fraser University. Every weekday I drove the same route, past Park Royal. On my 20th birthday, Sa (always an early riser) got up at the crack of dawn and strung a huge sign across the overpass with "I AM COMMITTED TO RED" written in large red letters. And that sign was still there when I drove under it at 8 am that morning. Who knows what other commuters thought that sign was about, but for me it was a love letter from a true friend.
Over the years, I have also discovered that love can come at any age. One of my favourite love stories is that of my Uncle Arthur, who was by nature a romantic. Uncle Arthur lived a full and amazing life. He was lucky to survive fighting in World War II, and during his time in London, to act with the likes of Vivian Lee at the Old Vic Theatre. Uncle Arthur went on to have three talented children (and later many wonderful grandchildren), to work for the United Nations in Rome and, after retirement, to spend years drinking red wine and "living it up" in Aix en Provence. Finally, in his 80s, when Arthur was single, he moved to British Columbia to be closer to family. And it was at senior's home in Victoria, after years of globe trotting, that Arthur finally met the romantic love of his life - Scottie. Although Arthur and Scottie were both in their 80s when they met, their love was as giddy and sweet as any teenager’s.
I remember one family reunion at Crescent Beach when Uncle Arthur asked me if I had been up early and written something in the sand. He told me that he had woken up to find "I LOVE YOU ARTHUR" written in giant letters in front of his cabin. I'll never forget the smile on Arthur's face when I told him that it hadn't been me. "Oh, then it must have been Scottie", he said. Arthur was 88 years old at the time. It is really never too late to fall in love, and probably even more importantly, to tell the people in your life that you love them. Even better, say it in giant letters strung in the sky or written in the sand.
Oh, and have a piece of carrot cake on February 3!
Suzanne Zacharias,Co-Founder & Head Tea Drinker, Cedar Mountain Studios