I detest Valentine's Day.
It's the sugar-coated sap, you see, and the Hallmark-cheesiness, and the pink hearts. They cause in me a knee-jerk reaction that I cannot help - until this year when, like Eliza Bennett with her Mr. Darcy, I find that my feelings have changed. They are not, as she puts it, 'quite the opposite,' but my heart has softened a bit towards the holiday of love.
And I think that Jane Austen has something to do with it.
This week, I felt surrounded by bad news. We receive mail, from time to time, sent by the political party that is not our own, we got on some list apparently, and reading the latest installment on Wednesday, I felt downright harassed. The language was so violent and aggressive and angry, it was like holding something lit on fire, or a howler from the Harry Potter universe. Seeing my principles turned into vitriol on the page really hurt. Why do political parties feel the need to trash each other so violently?
On that same morning, I read this in the Boston Globe, with the scary title "Home-Schooled in Ominous Isolation" (I know, online it's 'situation' but the paper uses the far scarier 'isolation'). It's about a mother who keeps her teenage daughters stuck at home, giving them no opportunity to be with others. It is not so much about homeschooling, but instead about a woman who abuses her children by separating them from the world. It depressed me because the conclusion that can be drawn - that will be drawn, by anyone outside of the homeschooling community - is that homeschooling equals ominous isolation, and that is simply not the case.
Also, looming in the near future is a doctor's appointment for Luke, a biggie that has to do with his left leg. The leg that's always given him trouble. The one he needed surgery on at age five. The one that keeps him back, despite the stretches and exercises he does every day. The one that causes him pain.
To counter the bad stuff that cannot be filtered out, I am lucky enough to have weapons of the highest quality: a lifelong friend who started a superb photography blog this week, who knows the value of a well-placed giggle, and who owns - and shares! - a copy of the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Here is my favorite, favorite scene in the whole movie (I know, Shan, it's crazy, but this even beats out the lake scene):
I've also borrowed three Jane Austen books (one from another friend, I am so lucky in my friends), and reading her funny and insightful words helps. A lot. I started with Pride and Prejudice, because I just can't get enough of Darcy, I guess!
Also, we attended a Valentine's Day party on Friday that was quite the opposite of ominous isolation: seventy homeschoolers, and bowling, and crafts, and food, and storytelling, even a penny drive for Haiti. It wonderful.
(Thanks to Erica for the two best pics up there :-)
So this year, between Valentine's Day and Pride and Prejudice (and good friends, and good fun!), I am able to counter the forces of evil. I hope your day is a good one, whether you love the holiday of love - or detest it.