By Shelley Luedtke
A young couple was sharing with an audience the significant changes they were making to their lives. Both were working in New York City in the financial industry and each had ambitious career and financial goals. On their first wedding anniversary their limited disposable income meant their celebration consisted of eating deli meat on Ritz crackers by candlelight and dreaming of the future. They promised each other that one day they would have the money to celebrate their anniversary with a gourmet meal and dancing at the famous Rainbow Room.
Just a few years later that’s exactly what they did. Their careers were going so well they could easily afford that, and many other nights out, if they wanted. But as their income skyrocketed and the promotions came quickly they found themselves working 16 and 18 hour days, leaving little time for much else--including special dinners.
Out of what they said had become habit and obligation, they were getting ready to make their anniversary reservation when she announced she didn’t want to do that again. When he asked what she wanted instead she quietly remarked, “I want to eat deli meat on Ritz crackers.”
I was surprised by the 53% of my gender who said they would break up with a boyfriend who didn’t live up to their expectations for Valentine’s Day. So as 18 billion dollars are spent finding ways for people to say how they feel, there is apparently more on the line than one might think.
One of the more amazing evenings my husband and I enjoyed was a steak and lobster candlelight dinner on the beach at a beautiful resort. As the waves gently lapped up on shore and our toes enjoyed the feel of the sand, a saxophone player treated us to romantic classics. Roses and decadent desserts completed the picture as the sun set over the ocean. It was a pretty spectacular night and one I’ll certainly remember but what made it so memorable was not the food or ambience but the one I was experiencing it with. You can set the stage with all the window dressing you’d like but unless the company is who you want to be with, the production matters little.
Roses are beautiful. So is an empty laundry basket. Or a filled gas tank. Or a fresh cup of coffee brought to my desk. Or any number of gestures that show a level of care. Am I surprised by these things? No. It is something my husband does all the time. Am I grateful? Absolutely, and I try to be as thoughtful toward him.
Because love isn’t sustained or nurtured by a greeting card, heart-shaped box of candy or spectacular display of flowers. It’s the day-to-day stuff of life that creates meaning and that’s what makes those roses so appreciated and those chocolates extra sweet.
A petal strewn path leading to a candlelight dinner on the beach can be spectacularly romantic, but only if it’s with someone who has also been with you when the setting wasn’t quite so picture perfect and the food not nearly so gourmet.
As 18 billion dollars are spent expressing affection and celebrating relationships today, the best expressions occur within those relationships that will be celebrated just as fully tomorrow. If it’s with the right person, deli meat and Ritz crackers are all that is needed.
That’s my outlook.