Published in the Rains County Leader on February 10, 2022:
The first item I submitted to the Rains County Leader was a letter to the editor called “Your Tax Dollars at Work.” It was an appeal to seniors in the area to check out the meals and activities at the Senior Center which was in danger of shutting down for lack of patronage. I don’t know how much influence that letter had, but it was published in September of 2011, and the Center is still going strong.
The letter had an unintended consequence – the birth of the City Girl column. In the last ten years, I’ve written hundreds of columns and thousands of words. One of the most common questions I’m asked by readers is Where do you get all your ideas? I don’t really have an answer for that except that I see life as a series of stories, and some of them are too good not to share. But there are those times when the stories and the words just won’t come, and this was one of those times. When that happens, I go back into my files in search of a story that’s worth retelling.
Since this column will be published just before that special day when sales of flowers and chocolates soar, I looked for related columns and found one from 2015 about a marriage conference Believers’ Baptist held on Valentine’s weekend that year. Since I had just told a story from that conference to some friends earlier in the day, it seemed like a sign. So here it is – again. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Valentine’s Day has a church history dating back to the 5th century, but it became associated with romantic love during the middle ages. There are some people, especially husbands who usually end up in the doghouse for their lack of romance and people who spend the evening sharing a pint of Homemade Vanilla with their four-footed roommate, who are convinced that Valentine’s Day was birthed by Hallmark and Russell Stover to sell more cards and candy. However, Believers’ Baptist Church found a way to celebrate the holiday that kept husbands out of the doghouse and gave singles a place to share in the festivities – and my husband David found a way to be one of the stars of the event.
Believers’ hosted a marriage conference last weekend. The planned event elicited a variety of responses. Some of the older couples felt like, after several decades of marriage, they pretty much knew what they were doing. A number of men, and a few women, refused to even consider attending, and others already had plans. Still, over twenty couples, along with several singles including a few teens, showed up to hear Ryan Dalgliesh present four sessions on what a biblical marriage should look like. Ryan liberally sprinkled his Scriptural teaching with touching and humorous stories about himself, his family, and his friends. He has an easy-going style that put even the most timid attendees at ease.
The Saturday morning session ended shortly after noon, and everyone scattered to prepare for Date Night – the finale of the conference. Creative volunteers decorated tables with a variety of themes including a camo table, a couple of Texas tables, and several traditional Valentine tables. Brenda German headed a kitchen crew who cooked up a delicious Italian buffet and a luscious dessert table. As the diners began to gather, it was obvious that, while some had opted to keep it casual, some had really dressed to impress their Valentines. With two couples per table, conversation was lively during dinner.
Then, it was game time, and David became a star. Names had been put into a basket, and contestants were chosen by a random drawing. The first name for the first game was mine. Two other ladies were chosen, and our task was to make our husbands as beautiful as possible in two minutes. One table had been vacated by the people who were in charge of the games, so I appropriated the table cloth. Since I didn’t know how to jerk the cloth out without sending everything flying, I moved the dishes to the side first. By the time I fashioned an off-the shoulder toga on my model, I didn’t have much time left, so I quickly tied a napkin around his neck and shoved the flowers from a centerpiece into his hands just as the time expired.
Next, the men were instructed to take a turn around the room so everyone could get a good look at them before voting for their favorite. As they began their walk, someone shouted Strut your stuff, and David took them at their word. He went into a hip-swaying sashay that had everyone rolling on the floor by the time he finished. We won a movie-night gift basket.
It was a great weekend. We learned some things about what God, who invented marriage, intended it to be; we spent some quality time with friends and with each other; we had a great dinner; and we laughed – a lot. Still, I guess we’re both a bit sentimental and traditional. When bedtime came, we each found a Valentine on our pillow.