It’s February. It’s cold, it’s dreary, and despite being the shortest month of the year, it feels like the longest. I suppose it’s because I’m always just anxiously awaiting March when Spring begins- and it’s the month I was born in so, ya know, it’s just the best month, obviously. (Sorry, that is just the obnoxious, arrogant Aries in me talking). But February- what a drag, huh?
Until the 14th rolls around and we have something to celebrate….sort of. Valentine’s Day is supposed to celebrate love, I suppose. Which is awesome if you are in love with someone, if you have a “Valentine” to speak of. If you don’t, it’s not the best holiday around, we can all probably agree on that.
Some people love Valentine’s Day (I’m guessing? Never actually met anyone who does, come to think of it; I’ve never asked someone “What’s your favorite holiday?” and they have been like “Valentine’s Day, obviously.”). Some people seem to hate it, and some people feel mostly “meh” about it. I’m sort of in that camp these days. Well, now I feel that way; back in the day it seemed super important to be someone’s Valentine, and hell hath no fury then if the guy I was with didn’t take it seriously.
Let me tell you a little story about that….
The first two years that I was dating my husband, he sent me a bouquet of a dozen roses to my job on Valentine’s Day. I loved that! Yes, roses are overpriced and will die in a week, and no one in their right mind should spend that much money on a gift that doesn’t last. But, I loved it all the same; there is just something that makes you feel very special when that big, lovely bouquet arrives, and you get to have them on your desk all day, smelling them and just feeling generally loved by someone. Enter the first Valentine’s Day after we are married.
All day long at work, bouquets of roses start to roll in. Every time a delivery person showed up, my heart would give a little leap- are those for me? Nope, those are for Joan. A little while later, another delivery- mine yet? Nah, those are for Sarah. After several hours and several deliveries, I notice the flood of bouquets arriving has come to a halt- and my desk is really quite void of any fragrant florals.
WHAT THE HELL, DUDE?!? Where are my roses, darling husband? What, now that we are married, the roses stop? You aren’t trying to “win” me anymore, so no further effort or romance is needed? I manage to get myself quite worked up and butt-hurt throughout the rest of the afternoon over my lack of a vase of love. I’m still fuming on the drive home and by the time I arrive, I’m really feeling very surly. I stomp into the house, slam my purse on the counter, and refuse to greet my husband with our usual hello kiss. He has the nerve to be in a good mood and smiley, and I realize that the poor bastard just has no clue that he is about to be destroyed for ruining my Valentine’s Day.
“How was your day?”, my mean, inconsiderate husband asks.
“Just fine,” I hiss, through gritted teeth. At this point I’m not exactly sure how he is going to pay for his shirking of the Valentine’s roses ritual, but trust me, I was about to bring the ruckus on his ass.
“I got you a present!” he says with a grin.
“Oh?” I side-eye him with pursed lips; he’s peaked my interest with that one. But, I’m still mad.
“Yep!” he says, excitedly. “Turn around!”
I turn around. Sitting on our dining room table is a brand new Dell laptop.
(Ok, back-story time: I was still completing my college degree and was taking a few online courses to finish up. My own computer had long ago crashed and I had not been able to afford a new one. So, when we started dating, my husband used to let me use his laptop to do my online classes).
I stare at the table, blinking in surprise. He bought me a laptop for Valentine’s Day. Because I needed one. Because he really put thought and effort into getting me a gift. Because this guy truly loves me and wants me to be happy.
The sheepishness begins to set in…..
“Well, I just wanted you to have one of your own, ya know, so you can work on class without worrying about whether I need mine or not…..” says my very considerate and adorable husband.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (so I did both!). I couldn’t believe how ridiculous I had been all day; I had been totally pissed at him, all day, about not receiving a fucking bouquet from him. When he had bought me a computer instead- a computer! (And that was a big expenditure; when we were first married we were not exactly made of money). To this day, I still tell him that is one of the most romantic things he has ever done for me.
It’s safe to say my view on Valentine’s Day changed drastically after that day. I realized romance means different things to different people. Tech-y gadgets aren’t generally thought of as romantic (and people raise their eyebrows with incredulity when I tell them the most romantic gift I’ve ever received was that laptop), but the sentiment behind it totally was. My husband is a practical guy, so of course he thought beyond bullshit traditions for something more worthwhile. It was then that I realized I was brainwashed to believe that flowers and chocolate had anything at all to do with love (spoiler alert- they really don’t!). And we have all read the articles about how it’s just a commercialized holiday driven by greeting card companies to screw people for money; that’s probably true. The whole situation with getting mad over a bouquet of roses made it click; this holiday, and it’s traditions, are over-rated as hell.
Think about how the “traditional” Valentine’s Day is supposed to be spent; expensive flowers, jewelry, and candy are gifted, then you head out to an extremely busy restaurant to eat an overpriced pre-set menu (with my food allergies? Not gonna happen), and drink overpriced champagne. I’ve done it all, many times; I can assure you, it’s not that cool. My husband and I used to subscribe to this version of V-Day until we got woke about how much it actually sucks. A forced date night that makes us feel like we are being robbed at gunpoint because everything is twice as expensive as usual.
And let’s not forget the long ago Valentine’s evening when my now-husband-then-fiance and I could only get a 9:00p.m. dinner reservation, so we decide to head to meet friends for some pre-dinner cocktails. Long story short: Sam + Empty Stomach + Cocktails = Too Tipsy to Make It to Dinner. Oops. That was a Valentine’s Day for the books, let me tell you; especially after my husband-to-be had to hold my hair while I threw up. Romance!
There was also the V-Day when my college boyfriend and I were fighting, but went out for dinner anyway because of the Valentine’s requirement to do so, and we spent the whole evening not speaking to each other and shooting glares at each other across the table. As Sir Elton John would ask “Can you feel the love tonight?” No, you can not, because there was none. Romance for the win, again!
So, yeah. You see I’ve had a sketchy past with ol’ St. Valentine’s Big Day. And now, after 13 years of marriage, I’m not all that into it anymore. It’s a cute holiday when you are young and newly in love- and stupid enough to think all that forced romantic shit is actually “romance”. (No judgement, I’ve been there. Remember the “Rose Tantrum” above?). Don’t get me wrong, my husband is still my Valentine, and romance is still alive and well in our relationship. I’m just saying romance can look anyway you want it to, and there is no reason you have to conform to some ideal of what love looks like to serve some random holiday.
Do we love our people more on this day than any other? Of course not.
Is it nice to make some sort of romantic gesture to mark a holiday based upon love? Absolutely.
But what is a romantic gesture? Obviously I believe romance is in the intent, but not everyone does. Some poor dude is going to read this and buy his beloved a new smart phone for Valentine’s, and is going to wind up mad at me because his girlfriend is pissed at him for not being “romantic”. Do men want “romantic gifts”? I’ve tried to buy my husband typical Valentine’s Day fare and he was less than thrilled; my dude definitely doesn’t want a big thing of chocolates or flowers. (Sorry about the chocolate body paint, dear- I didn’t know it would taste that bad!) How do you really demonstrate love with a holiday that shoves it down your throat in such an obnoxious way? This holiday is straight confusing and kind of a pain in the ass.
We should not put so much pressure on it, and shouldn’t make it into a bigger deal than it is, for own own sanity. Especially for people who are single this V-Day; are we really just unlovable trolls if we aren’t ass deep in roses and candy? No, and it’s insane that we are made to think that. It’s all just a rumor created by the Valentine Illuminati, which I believe must be made up of the head honchos of Hallmark, Russell Stover, Hershey, Victoria’s Secret, and 1-800-FLOWERS. And that Shari, that makes the Shari’s Berries; she is probably in on it, too.
So, now that we are all sorts of older and wiser, the hubs and I celebrate Valentine’s Day any damn way we want to. It no longer involves going out to restaurants of any kind because seriously, screw that. One year we decided to spend it by ordering our favorite Chinese take-out and binge watching Alias on DVD instead; exactly 9 months later our first child was born. So consider this plan a warning to you all. Netflix and Chill (well, back then it was Blockbuster and Chill) is a great way to spend Valentine’s Day, but it may have consequences.
These days we spend the holiday with our kids, because they are a huge part of our love story, and they enjoy celebrating the day, too. We do still exchange gifts, because my husband says he has to give me something for Valentine’s Day (the brainwashing didn’t completely wear off), and I give him something, too (despite the fact that he says boys don’t want Valentine’s gifts) because if he is getting me something, I feel like I need to reciprocate. Our kids get gifts, too, because in for a penny, in for a pound, right? So maybe I’m a big old hypocrite with this blog post as I obviously still celebrate the day in some traditional ways. But, I’m no longer a head case about it, so #winning.
Oh, but my husband has never missed another year of sending roses; a bouquet dutifully shows up every year for me, and one for our daughter as well. He apparently noticed back in the day that the roses were “a thing”, and I’m pathetic enough that it still makes me feel just so damned special every year when they arrive.
Is Valentine’s Day a holiday I love to hate, or hate that I love? You be the judge.
Happy Valentine’s Day!