I Have Mixed Feelings About Valentine’s Day
“The most desired gift of love is not diamonds or roses or chocolate. It is focused attention.”
– Richard Warren
When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day was easy. We’d make or buy cards, and give one to each kid in our class. We also usually had extra time in art class to draw something heart-related, and we got to eat chocolate. It was a nice break from the winter doldrums.
But as an adult, Valentine’s Day is a minefield. I can’t think of any other holiday that has such a skewed stress:reward ratio.
If you’re single, you’re constantly reminded of that fact, with every corner and grocery store filled with teddy bears and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. You feel excluded.
Even if you’re dating or married, it can be bewildering to sort out reality from expectations. It’s so commercialized! It seems that every ad on TV is saying to buy flowers, or diamonds, or whatever. Every kiss begins with an overpriced rock. No thank you.
I like to make baked goods for Valentine’s Day, but unless you’re getting a diamond necklace, expensive dinner, and flower bouquet, society says you’re missing out.
Granted, most advertising I just ignore, because it’s way too unrealistic. (Think of the Christmas commercials where people wake up to a brand-new SUV, complete with a bow on it, in the driveway.)
But there’s still pressure to get your beloved a card and a gift. Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays where you just have to keep a stash of stuff hidden in a closet, because even if your loved one says, “Oh, I don’t need anything, really,” there’s the chance they will change their mind and get you something at the last minute, and leave you empty-handed.
The holiday’s origins are weird. It could possibly be traced back to a fertility festival where animals were sacrificed for women’s fertility. Now that’s something to commemorate with a necklace!
It’s traditionally traced back to St. Valentine, who was killed for helping people get married. Buying a $75 floral arrangement doesn’t seem so bad now, does it? Oddly enough, he’s also the patron saint of beekeeping.
You would think that florists love Valentine’s Day, but most of them seem to hate the holiday rush. Let’s see, everyone wants flowers delivered, but it’s freezing and icy outside. And everyone wants red roses. At least for Mother’s Day, the weather is nicer and people will accept a variety of flowers.
Valentine’s Day is historically a big movie night, with a lot of films being released, even when the 14th doesn’t fall on a Friday. But going to a movie theater on a weekday evening feels like I’m making an appointment. Showings seem to be either at 6:05 (no time for dinner after work) or 7:30 (sold out) or 10:30 (hope you like being tired at work tomorrow!) And nothing says romance and intimacy like sticky floors and cold popcorn.
This year, I want to do something different, but I’m not sure what. Should we go out to dinner? Should I cook dinner? I definitely need to buy chocolate, but what else?
In any case, for a couple, skipping Valentine’s Day is simply out of the question. Not recognizing the occasion is a social faux pas on the level of forgetting to give someone a birthday gift. At some level, participation is mandatory.
I suppose I could just block out an evening and enjoy time with my husband, and not stress about it. That’s a possibility not mentioned in advertisements. I’ll have to try it.