February is a bridge between the cold dark days of January and the brighter, almost spring days of late March. It is the shortest month of the year and might just drift by unnoticed if not for a few special days that it holds. February has Presidents’ Day, but unless you work for the government or a bank or are shopping for mattresses or apparel Presidents Day does not have much of an impact. The other two special days do impact all of us: Groundhog Day and Valentines Day. The one gives us the often wrong prediction from a rodent on when winter will end and the other compels us to send cards, candy and flowers as a sign of affection.
During my freshman year in college, I visited the campus bookstore one day and came across a card that on the outside said “February is the month for Groundhogs and Valentines” on the inside was the question, “Which Do You Want to Be?” In a moment of questionable judgment, I purchased and mailed the card. I was in the midst of the quandary that countless young men and women go through – I was in college a thousand miles away from the young lady that I had dated in high school and was trying to figure out where I was going and where that relationship stood. At the time, I found the card amusing in the snarky, sarcastic type of humor that was so ingrained in me at that point in my life.
In the many years that have passed, I realize that the card said quite a lot about the person that sent it and that I was the person that really needed to answer that question – was I a groundhog or was I a Valentine?
I imagine that you have heard the story of St. Valentine. At a time when the Emperor was prohibiting marriage under the premise that single men made better soldiers, St. Valentine would perform marriage ceremonies in defiance of the edict. He was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. He stood for love and uniting those who loved each other even at a tremendous personal cost. On the other hand, a groundhog is a common rodent who rarely travels far from a burrow entrance.
So I have to ask myself – do I want to be someone who stands up for what is good and right even if it goes against popular or even “official” opinion or do I want to be someone who just dashes out once in awhile never wondering very far from safety? Do I want to be someone willing to take great risk or do I want to be someone that runs from his own shadow? It has been decades since I came across that card and I am still trying to answer that question. What about you?