Valentine’s Day has never really meant much to me, nor did it ever really mean much for Ben. Our first Valentine’s Day was celebrated via Skype when I was in the ever romantic Oklahoma City for a client visit. Side note for you Texans who don’t like to cross the border: Oklahoma City is actually a really interesting place to visit and has tons of amazing restaurants. I tried pumpkin ravioli for the first time at a restaurant in OKC and it truly changed my life. If you know of a place in Austin that serves this dish, please tell me and I will take you there, buy you dinner, and make you watch me eat three bowls of it.
The next year, we spent Valentine’s in one of those Minute-Clinics because Ben thought he was dying. Turns out, he just had really bad allergies and the doctor was not at all amused that he was taking up her time on a Friday evening. Ironically, her name was Doctor Holiday. And she absolutely HATED Ben for joking that he was seeing Doc Holiday on a holiday. Avoiding her glare, we promptly went home to take allergy medicine and eat pizza in our pajamas. ROMANCE.
But on February 14, 2015, Valentine’s Day took on an entirely new meaning…
Shortly after getting engaged, we started looking for wedding venues and quite frankly, they all sucked. With some encouragement from my mom, we decided to stop by an open house that Pecan Springs Ranch was hosting. Considering what we’d seen earlier in the day, I wasn’t expecting much. But instead, it was perfect.
One of their team members walked us around and could sense that I was ready to commit (I’m not subtle when I’m excited), so she gave us a list of available dates for Saturday weddings. We ultimately landed on February considering it was much cheaper and we started running the available dates past parents and the wedding party. When responses came in that the dates absolutely would not work for some crucial wedding guests, I just about lost it. Looking back, I’m not proud of this bridezilla moment (I only had one or two), but it entailed me crying silently in the bathroom of the venue while my mom Googled other venues in the area that might suffice instead.
Eventually, the staff member came into the bathroom where I was still hiding behind the stall with my puffy eyes with news that Valentine’s Day had just opened up and that we could have it. As luck will have it, this date worked for everyone and we signed the paperwork. At first, I was a little embarrassed to tell people that we were getting married on Valentine’s Day because it’s the cheesiest holiday of the year and was so not something that Ben and I even cared about. Eventually, I got over it, and told my friends that they should thank me for taking the guesswork out of their date plans. Free drinks and dinner and you can still dress up. You’re welcome, friends.
Valentine’s Day 2015 was the best day of my life. It had all the makings of what one might call a “perfect Valentine’s Day” – chocolate, champagne, jewelry and flowers plus so much more. All of our loved ones were in one room, we got to commit to each other forever and then we got to leave Pecan Springs Ranch as a married couple.
A year later and now that we share an anniversary with Valentine’s Day, we actually put some thought into this upcoming weekend. Ben has a whole itinerary planned including a comedy show at New Movement, a hike + picnic and lots of good food. We’re not big on gifts, but he insisted that we give each other something special. And for Ben, that meant what he called a “Death Box.”
After explaining that he wanted to create a box with all of our important paperwork, our will, an outline of where all of our accounts could be found and a list of passwords in the case that one of us passes away, I kind of got his drift, but was still upset at the idea that we were planning for death. I didn’t understand why he wanted to think about something like this, especially in the blissful state that is our first year of marriage.
After listening to my tirade, Ben explained that even if we live until we’re 100, we will eventually pass away – leaving behind family who will need to handle our affairs. I still wasn’t having it. I consider myself a glass half full kinda gal, who is waiting for the glass to become half empty. I love living in a state of naivety and optimism, but in the back of my head, I’m always waiting for the shoe to drop and for horrible things to happen and I was not on board to create a box that was planning for death.
Now that I’ve had some time to come around to it I realized it’s actually the sweetest gift we could ever give each other. Thinking about life without my new husband is the worst thing in the world. But you know what would be even worse? Coping with a tragedy like that and having to piece together our lives because I didn’t know the password to the site where we pay our mortgage or I didn’t know his social security number.
We fell into a natural rhythm this year where I handle our day-to-day finances and he handles the long term financial stuff that I find boring. I bet lots of you are in the same boat – where you split responsibility and don’t really pay attention to the accounts or the passwords that you don’t deal with on a daily basis. And maybe you might find a similar box helpful to give you some peace of mind as you go about living your lives.
So yes, it’s not flowers and it’s not champagne, but it’s one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your loved ones and I’m thankful that I have a process-based husband who made us sort through everything to prepare for a time when we won’t be there to say, “Whoops, I forgot the password to this site. Remind me one more time…”
If you do end up creating a similar box, I recommend drinking some of that champagne while you work to make it more fun and less ominous. Nothing is sad when you’re drinking bubbles. With that, happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours and I hope you have a wonderful weekend celebrating in whatever way makes you happy (especially if it’s a heart shaped pizza).