My Oman Valentine
Typically, Valentine’s Day is a relatively small event in our household. Sometimes we exchange a cute card or share a bottle of wine. There are rarely extensive reservations, serious plans or even small gifts. We try to be kind, appreciative and loving every day. Especially, in the USA where this is such a large and involved holiday we really take pride in doing something quiet just to enjoy one another.
Yet, today, for the first time in years I find myself a bit nostalgic and wishful that I had planned something more interesting. One obvious reason is that we are away from our home culture and doing something for Valentine’s Day will feel a bit like home. Of course, if we were at home we’d be in the living room eating take-out. Not at a fancy restaurant.
I realized that in the safety of our own culture I felt no pressure to fit in during Valentine’s Day celebrations. Being ourselves and being together was enough. However, in the small expat community where we live in Oman there are days when I just want to fit in and have something to talk about.
Leading up to this holiday I honestly didn’t expect to hear a word about Valentine’s Day in Oman. Perhaps that expectation is what sent me in the wrong emotional direction anyhow. I didn’t think Valentine’s Day would even be recognized. Wow, was I wrong. Every restaurant, bar, spa and business that can lure expats and locals alike with promise of deals for Valentine’s Day is doing so. For the last two weeks every where I go someone asks what I have planned for Valentine’s Day and when I say nothing, they stare a little shocked and turn to someone else in the group to ask them. So, finally, last night on Valentine’s Eve I realized despite my wonderful partner being in my life having no plans has really made me feel left out. I only have myself to blame. I had expected that the same plans we would have had back in the states would make me feel as fulfilled here in our expat life.
I did some research on the topic of Valentine’s Day to rectify this confused feeling of being torn between not wanting to celebrate in a way we usually wouldn’t but also feeling left out of our new community because we had no plans. An article at Yale News eased my mind by reminding me that whether or not I think of this as a unimportant holiday it is still a very important cultural ritual. This is a ritual that brings us closer to the ones we love and our community and that isolation can and does occur when people do not participate. Read more at Yale News.
I also discovered some fascinating facts about the history of Valentine’s Day in a short video at History.com and it made me forget my analytic mind and smile. See the video.
Alas, I am reminded that expectations are a good way to get let down, that cultural and social norms and their impacts on us always amaze me and that I am fortunate in love and in life.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Oman.