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Poor Man’s Flowers

on February 14, 2013

carnationsSo today is Valentine’s day: a day of romance and love and…well…setting most men up to feel like they are failures. Not romantic enough.  Not thoughtful enough.  Just not…well…enough.  They didn’t get us the right card or chocolate or take us to the best restaurant.  They didn’t spend enough on flowers and gifts. The card wasn’t handwritten. They just didn’t hit the romantic standard we had in mind.  Like the guys in the movies or television or romance novels do. Quit trying to pretend ladies – we’ve all been there.   I was reminded of it last night as I heard my girls discussing Valentine’s day and their friends’ expectations from boyfriends.  Most of us grow out of that eventually but I know some women who haven’t.  I find that kind of sad.  If you’ve followed me long enough you already know that I firmly believe that if I don’t show my family that I love them and they are special to me on more than just a select few days a year (Valentine’s, Birthdays, Anniversaries, etc.) then I am sadly missing the mark anyway.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t get our kids something for Valentine’s day or their birthdays or any other special occasion.  We do. We just aren’t extravagant for them or for each other.  I don’t need those things to know I’m loved and I have hopefully passed that security on to my children.  It isn’t about the gift.  It’s about the giver.

Not long ago I was sitting in a meeting where there was discussion about handing out flowers.  Someone made the statement, “We’ll be giving out roses – not carnations, the poor man’s flower. ” (or something to that effect.)  My eyebrows shot up.  “I LOVE carnations.”  I said.   “They are cheap.”  was the reply.   That statement bothered me on several levels.  It not only exemplifies the attitude I was just discussing but it reminded me of the time I had to grow up and begin to learn what true love is about.  It reminds me of how ugly my attitude and expectations used to be.   And it all happened on a Valentine’s Day long ago.

My husband and I had been married a little over a year and our son was still a baby. We didn’t have any extra money.  None.  In fact we barely had enough money to feed ourselves.   It was obvious to both of us that there was not going to be any kind of special celebration or gifts for Valentine’s Day that year.  I’d like to say that I was mature about that but at that point in my life I just wasn’t.  I was disappointed that I was going to be gypped out of a romantic day filled with flowers and gifts.   I did force myself not whine or complain too much to my young husband but he knew how I felt.  I’m not sure how he could have missed it really.  Pity parties are pretty hard to miss. My poor husband, married too young and doing the best he could at that point felt like a failure because he couldn’t go out and buy roses and chocolates and take me to dinner.  He wasn’t a failure.  His wife was just a spoiled selfish little girl.  On February 14th that year I baked a chocolate cake and decorated it with heart sprinkles (all the ingredients donated to me by my mother by the way) and felt some sort of martyr-ish satisfaction knowing I had a least done something for him for Valentine’s day while I knew he would have nothing for me. (How many times have we played THAT game girls??)  Much to my surprise he walked through the door that evening with two carnations: one red and one white.  He had scrounged through our vehicles, couch cushions and everywhere else he could think of to come up with the change to buy them because he didn’t want me to have nothing that day.  He knew it was important to me so he did everything he could to make sure I got something.  He loved me.  Amazingly – he still does.  From that day to this: carnations are my favorite flower.

Just a few weeks ago  I arrived home from work right before my husband had to leave for his four-day (ok – overnight) work week out-of-town.  I found a simple vase with two carnations, one white and one red, sitting on our headboard.  “What is this?” I asked him.  “Nothing really. Just a little something to let you know I love you and I’ll miss you.”   He does things like that for me all the time.  Nothing extravagant but just a “little something” to tell me he loves me.   Those “poor man’s flowers” bought simply “because” are worth more to me than all the roses in the world.  I guess I learned my lesson all those years ago: any gift given out of love is precious no matter how expensive (or inexpensive) it is.  So tonight while people are out wining and dining and celebrating romance I am going to look at my $10 bouquet of flowers that my sweet man brought me yesterday.  He picked them up at the grocery store while he did the grocery shopping for me.  Now that, my friends, is true love!



8 responses to “Poor Man’s Flowers

  1. Drops of Ink says:

    Lilies are my favorite, but carnations hold a special place for me too. My father used to buy them for me when I was younger and he was still with me. I cannot even look at them now, without getting sentimental. To me, there is no such thing as a “poor man’s flower.” They are all given out of love and that in itself makes them valuable. 😉

  2. I love gerberas (sp?) – the ones like huge, bright daisies. They are so happy 🙂

  3. javaj240 says:


    I could really care less about Valentine’s Day myself. We have no hard and fast traditions. Some years he buys me flowers, other years it’s been candy. He always gets me a nice card, though. Always. It’s the thought. The rest of it is just bullshit.

  4. I absolutely love this post! I totally get this and I have some beautiful carnations on the kitchen table right now….Seriously!!!

  5. I can’t believe they don’t like carnations!! They last so much longer than roses. And they have no thorns. I, however, am a fan of the cheapest flowers of all…wild ones. Great post. Shame on all the materialistic women of the world.

    • wedelmom says:

      I love wild flowers – well – the ones that don’t make me sneeze. 😉 Everyone is entitled to their opinion I guess but it’s a good reminder that how you word things is important.

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