According to federal law the third Monday of February is an official bank & government employee "holiday." (If you live in the D.C. area, as our No. 3 son does, it may not matter; nobody will be able to get out of their driveway for another week). These "official" holidays are something of anomalies. There are no particular traditions associated with them, and only the lucky few get the day off.
Unfortunately the thirrd Monday of the month can never fall on the 14th -- which means Valentine's Day will never be an official holiday. If it were it might be worth taking the day off. We could even work-up some traditions to associate with the day; certainly enough important things have happen on the fourteenth day of February, to wit:
In 270 A.D., according to on the ground reporters, one of at least three men recognized as "Valentine" created the first Valentine's Day card. The day assigned to this event is the fourteenth, presumably chosen by a marketing company unaware of the third Monday of the month rule.
And, on February 14 1965, one Kay Allen of Normandy, Mo., went on a first date with a certain David Lewis of St Louis City, Mo.
We had met the previous Friday evening (Feb. 12) at Hodges Skating Rink. I remember her as being the only really pretty girl in the place (I've always said I thought her to be pretty). She says she remembers me being the only decent looking guy available. Back in those days I usually wore a white shirt, solid color tie, and sweater. Still like sweaters, may still have that tie.
I chose her for the "gentleman's choice" skate. I figured it was the only way she'd skate with me, what with being the prettiest girl there and all. Girls can't turn down the first guy who shows up for gentleman's choice. She says now she couldn't believe I asked her (the girl knows how to make a guy feel good).
Our first date was a trip to the Planetarium in St. Louis. She always remembers how we talked for hours. I don't quite remember, probably means I mostly listened and observed (the only two things I'm any good at).
After our first date I told my best friend I'd met the girl I was going to marry. As previously written, I've never looked back or the right hand or the left and there is no other woman I ever loved. It was a good first date.
Over these now 45 years the anniversary we most cherish is that first date. Wedding anniversaries have tended to come and go, but we always try to do something on Valentine's. At least once she was in hospital, at least once I was, and one year we were both so sick we waited to celebrate. Somehow our (my?) tradition has come to be not cards or flowers, but taking her to some high-class, five-star restaurant (read as, Steak 'n Shake).
This year I've decided to celebrate the day by declaring the third Monday of February an official holiday: Kay and David's First Date Anniversary. If you work for a bank or the government, take the day off.
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.