My Word of the Week: Second

sec·ond – adjective \ˈse-kənd also -kənt,especially before a consonant -kən, -kəŋ\
: occupying the number two position in a series
: next to the first in importance or rank
: another of the same kind


I watch as the coconut oil melts into the cocoa powder to create a drizzly chocolate I can use to coat strawberries. After adding a couple of tablespoons of pure maple syrup to sweeten the sauce, I coat the berries one at a time then lay them on a covered plate.

This is the last step in creating a perfect Valentine’s dinner at home. Not that it’s actually Valentine’s Day. The holiday itself falls on a Friday this year when the boys will be with us. That evening will be spent eating dinner out at our favorite local Mexican restaurant followed by a movie at the theater the next day with them.

But this night, when Steve works late and the weather is unpredictable and the movie we want to see is available on-demand, I roast vegetables and boil pasta and chop a salad for a nice dinner at home.

Just like last year.

This is our second Valentine’s Day, I suddenly realize. Relief floods over me as the reality settles in. The second one, I say again to myself as I remember the pasta and the strawberries and the salad I made last year.

We haven’t had many seconds in our house. Our first anniversary at the end of December ended a long line of firsts. Each birthday and holiday and vacation and school event we encountered in the last 12 months was new and exciting. But it also was stressful and confusing. When two families are joined together – even if one of those families consists of only a woman and her dog – there are traditions and expectations to be sorted through, hurt feelings and unspoken grudges to be avoided, if at all possible.

Now that we are arriving at the second round of all these events, things feel a little easier. Firsts are momentous. Seconds are . . . well, normal. Maybe even boring.

I like boring.


When we first started making our Valentine’s plans, we weren’t necessarily expecting to celebrate at home. Steve had hoped to take me out to a new restaurant we found recently. But a realistic look at the day’s schedule rendered that idea impossible. Until that very moment when I was standing in front of the stove making chocolate sauce, it hadn’t dawned on me that eating at home was much better.

“Maybe this could be our tradition,” I proposed to Steve later that evening.

Over the weekend, I was admiring my Valentine’s roses which have stayed beautiful for days. The rich red of the petals grows more complex as the flowers age.

“Did you get me red last year?” I ask, trying to remember.

“I think so,” Steve answers. I smile.

Because these aren’t just red Valentine’s roses, these are my second red Valentine’s roses.

A rose by any other name wouldn’t smell so sweet.



Photo by daveparker, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.


Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • Megan Willome ,

    Totally different situation, but your “second” makes me think of all the second holidays after my mom died. The first were all momentous because she wasn’t there. The third and so forth? Boring. Blessedly boring.

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      Charity Singleton Craig ,

      Megan – Different situation, but the same sentiment. We put a lot of pressure on firsts, and they get a lot of emotion wrapped up in them. Seconds, thirds, fourths: we just kind of let those happen.

    • Diana Trautwein ,

      Boring is hugely underrated. It speaks of continuity, consistency, commitment. And I’ll take it almost any day over uncertain, uncomfortable, untoward. Lovin’ these words of the week, Charity. And congrats on number two – so, so sweet. We gave up eating out on V-Day long ago. We have a restaurant delivery service in our town – much better. :>)

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        Charity Singleton Craig ,

        Diana – Restaurant delivery sounds like a great option, though I have to admit that making the dinner seemed like a gift from me to Steve.

        I love these synonyms for boring you’ve offered. These are all the reasons I love boring, Diana.

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          Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Oh, and I’m enjoying these words of the week, too. It’s really providing some good structure for me. I’m glad you like them. You are my biggest fan!

      • L.L. Barkat ,

        Smiling. 🙂 (And I love this word of the week thing.)

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          Charity Singleton Craig ,

          Thanks, Laura! You can thank Jane Friedman for my word of the week. It wasn’t her idea specifically, but when she encouraged me to narrow my focus, this is where I landed. It’s been a wonderful “form” to explore. (I also love form poetry for that very reason. I seem to work well with boundaries.)

        • Sandra Heska King ,

          I like boring, too. Sometimes.

          Happy soon-to-be thirds.

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            Charity Singleton Craig ,

            Sandy – Boring has such a negative connotation, doesn’t it? Simple, predictable, reliable. These are the positive aspects I meant to evoke with “boring.”

            Thirds. I can hardly imagine!

          • Ann Kroeker ,

            Happy second Valentine’s Day, sweet friend.

          • Linda ,

            I just love this Charity. I am so happy for you.

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              Charity Singleton Craig ,

              Thank you, Linda. I actually hope I can appreciate every year. The first one, the second one, the tenth one, the 23rd one. Lord willing.