"Sacrifice is the greatest gift, a gesture of how priceless love really is."
- Gift of the Magi

Two hearts formed in the snow from tire tracks, in the parking lot of our Valentine's Day date.

This year, Valentine's Day preparations began before Christmas, starting with me surprising my better half with tickets to Beerfest, an annual tradition for us both and the vast majority of our friends. It just so happened the festival fell on the holiday this year, so I scooped up the hard-to-get VIP tickets well in advance. (You never know how many wives and girlfriends had the same idea.)

As February approached, my boyfriend revealed his own surprise: he had secured tickets for the Cincinnati Dinner Train, an outing we had both been anticipating for nearly a year. You see, we attempted to purchase tickets on two different occasions to celebrate my birthday, but both times we were turned away due to the train being at capacity. Later that summer, he reserved tickets for our Valentine's date. (And I thought I got an early start!)

Unable to take part in both February 14th activities, I decided to sell our Beerfest tickets and enjoy a romantic evening on the train, just the two of us. I picked out a fanciful outfit, styled my hair into curls, and complimented it with an elegant 1940s era tiny hat. The better half was clad my favorite pinstripe suit and tie.

With Valentine's Day arrived Cincinnati's spontaneous weekly snowfall. I've lost count of how many days it has snowed this season; more than I can remember in the past 15 years. The weatherman says we're just two inches shy of breaking the all-time snowiest record of 42 inches, which was set back in 1977. As white death covered the city, we set off on our journey. Blizzard or high water, we were finally going to get on that dinner train.

After a white-knuckled drive, we arrived at the designated parking lot in Oakley, already dusted with an inch of snow. No train was in sight. Guests gathered around the attendant who informed us there was a delay, but the train would be running this evening. My boyfriend and I spent the next three hours waiting inside his vehicle.

We people watched, from bare-legged, stilletto-wearing women traipsing through the snow to folks who were ill-equipped to be out driving in such weather, fishtailing or getting stuck on a gentle incline. We made sound effects and commentary for the cars, cheering on certain ones like a sporting event. We created a game of moving piles of melting snow with the wipers as it slid down over our windshield. We laughed as a dressed-up young lady walked out of a restaurant with her boyfriend, who couldn't be bothered to put on something nicer than sweatpants. And between all the silliness, we held hands and talked.

For three hours, the better half and I made the best of an unfortunate situation. Although we were hungry and had our knees pressed against the dashboard, I was happy, because there was no where I would rather be on Valentine's Day than right there with him.

Ultimately, the dinner train was cancelled and we endured another white-knuckled drive back home. A late dinner was enjoyed at one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, and because of the weather, we were able to walk right in and be seated without waiting.

Great love stories can be small. It's simple things like him waving at me aboard the bus, carrying an umbrella to protect my hair from the flurries, safely navigating the slippery roads, or helping me step over snowdrifts. It's trading in a prime rib dinner for a hot dog with slaw and sharing a bowl of baked mac n' cheese. It's passing three hours in a frozen vehicle as easily as if you were having the night of your life.

Valentine's Day may not have been as grandiose as we had originally envisioned, but when you plan on being with someone for the long haul, we've already found plenty of opportunity to make those ordinary moments turn into extra special days.