Friday, February 11, 2011
My Ode to Valentine's Day
I sort of hate Valentine's Day. Not with quite the amount of passion that I hate it when people text when they drive, or use apostrophes when they pluralize their family name... but I hate it all the same.
Even as a kid, I remember the anxiety I'd feel over those Valentines parties at school... having to have a perfectly decorated box, and picking the right cards, and comparing and analyzing what the cute boy that both myself and my best friend had a crush on wrote on our valentines. It was nerve-wracking.
And in high school, they always sold carnations on Valentine's Day. People would buy them for their significant others (or their crushes, or their pawns in making other people jealous) Then a big deal would be made about delivering said carnations to students during their classes. A lovely and exciting thing if you were one of the people receiving a carnation. I never was. If I did have a boyfriend, we were broken up by the time February rolled around. My junior year, I actually had a boyfriend in February, and as silly as it was, I was excited to think that I'd get a carnation on Valentine's Day. I would get to be the one to ooh and ahh over my beautiful carnation and my thoughtful boyfriend while the rest of the class waited to see if they too, were going to experience the thrill of that artificially dyed flower and crinkly paper. My excitement was short-lived however, as he broke up with me ON Valentine's Day.
I will always remember that afternoon in French class, when my teacher was calling on students to ask them what they were doing for their valentine. And when he called on me, I had the distinct honor of being the only one to have to answer:
Je n'ai pas Valentin.
That was the year that I officially swore off the holiday forever. (Yes, Mike W, you were the one who ruined me for the most romantic holiday of the year. For the rest of my life.) I'm kidding. Kind of. But oh how that high school drama hurt at the time!
The following summer, of course, I would meet my now husband. I have had the same "valentine" now for 20 years. And to his credit, when we were newly together and he was still "wooing" me, he did get me flowers and chocolate and sweet little nothings on Valentine's Day. One year, after we were married but before we had kids, he even booked a special weekend away as a surprise.
But I still hate Valentine's Day. I do. I'm the Valentine's version of Scrooge. Going in to the grocery store right now makes my skin crawl.... all the balloons and pinks and hearts and flowers and cards... It's so commercialized and driven by money and just... icky. My biggest objection though is just the fact that it's a specific day set aside to tell people that we love them, to be sweet and kind and giving because it's Valentine's Day. Shouldn't we be doing those things anyway? Whatever happened to a gift of chocolate on a Tuesday, in the middle of June? Wouldn't it mean so much more then, when it's "just because"? Why not send your loved ones nice notes any random old time that you're thinking of them? Why not get your best friend (or your husband or your child) that present that you know they'll love now, instead of waiting for Valentine's Day, or Christmas, or their birthday? Why not surprise your spouse with a fancy candlelit dinner in the middle of the week, on March 17th, just because you want to?
It should be noted that because I don't want to pass my anti-Valentine bias onto the kids, we don't completely ignore it. They've participated in many a Valentine party, and I never pass up an excuse (any excuse) to try a new cupcake recipe. But I just think there's something odd, and silly at best, to a holiday that's devoted to love and romance, and a sentiment that should be part of our lives year-round.
Or maybe I'm still bitter about those darn carnations.
Either way, I'm greatly looking forward to the 15th.