Tomorrow is, of course, Valentine’s Day. It comes around in February on the same day every year, and although some people always seem surprised when it arrives, you can’t really say you didn’t see it coming.

Along with the calendar date, some aspects of this holiday are very expected.

There will be much chocolate, many red and pink hearts, and all the roses. There will be cartoon cards passed around grade school classrooms, hearts scribbled on bright construction paper cut-outs, lovey-dovey rhymes circulating amidst truly heartfelt sentiments.

Sweet things will abound: assorted chocolates, boxes of Sweethearts, decadent cakes and rich cheesecakes.

This is all to be expected.

Sometimes, though, the sweetest things are the unexpected ones.

Consider the surprise bouquet of roses or not-roses delivered to your office, or the date your significant other planned without telling you about it.

I’m not anticipating any of that kind of thing this year — which, to be fair, if I were, would mean they were not unexpected.

This Valentine’s Day, I’ll be going with my husband to his orthopaedic surgeon check-up. Talk about romantic!

But really, though it doesn’t fit with the standard candlelit dinner idea and may not make the top ten most romantic getaways list anytime soon, a doctor’s appointment seems a very appropriate place to celebrate the day.

The dictionary does, after all, define “romantic” as “conducive to or characterized by the expression of love,” and I get all mushy and emotional just thinking about how amazing it is we get to have Valentine’s Day together. The aura of medical buildings is just about as far away from that of fancy restaurants as you can get, yet love expressed in harsh fluorescent lighting and long hospital hallways is very real.

A year ago, I obviously had no idea Brian and I would spend the holiday this way. But then again, a couple months ago, I didn’t expect to have him at all, not to mention having likely his last appointment for his now-healed pelvis and knee. We’ll go together, he’ll walk in almost completely back to normal, and then I’ll be overwhelmed again by gratefulness for his life and recovery.

So while I wouldn’t recommend hanging out with your valentine at the doctor’s, do remember that love and life aren’t always cloyingly sweet or idealistic. Sometimes there’s a harsher edge to them, but that just makes the flavor deeper.

Kind of like dark chocolate.

Yes, I brought it all back around to chocolate — it is Valentine’s Day, after all.

It’s only to be expected.

Amanda Miller writes a column about local foods for The Hutchinson News. She teaches classes at Apron Strings and makes cheese on her family’s dairy farm near Pleasantview. Reach her at