I’ve got a bone to pick with some of y’all.
First, let me say I understand why Valentine’s Day is fraught for many. I know it’s especially hard if you’ve recently lost someone you love, whether to death, divorce, or break-up. I spent 42 years being single far more often than paired, so I also know the tropes of Valentine’s Day can be alienating to the unpartnered and unconventionally partnered. (I took seriously the lesson of giving everyone in your school class a Valentine, thus I’ve always considered it a day to celebrate love of all kinds, not just romance–more on that shortly.) I also get that some folks just aren’t much into observing calendar holidays in general. That’s cool.
The people I’m talking to are the ones who sniff each year and utter some form of “I show the people I love that I love them every day, so I don’t need to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
Give me a break.
- Valentine’s Day is a day, so if you show your loved ones you love them every day, you are not off the hook on February 14th.
- You’re setting up a false dichotomy: EITHER I show my love every day OR I celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s not an either-or. Ideally, it’s a both-and. Refer back to (1).
- Of all the holidays to disdain, why on earth would you choose to disdain one focused specifically on celebrating love?
Aside from the “I’m a world-class Cupid every day” hogwash, the second most popular opt-out clause is “I don’t like the commercialization/It’s a Hallmark holiday.” (A) I hope you don’t celebrate Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Halloween, or Easter, or anything else then, because they’ve ALL become commercialized. And (B) It’s only a Hallmark holiday if you send a Hallmark card or gift, which no one is making you do. Feel free to skip on roses and chocolates and jewelry, if those don’t suit. But insisting on passing up the opportunity to do something deliberate and out of the ordinary to show the people you love that you love them, that you think of them and hold them dear? And then trying to pass yourself off as somehow superior to those who DO make an extra effort, insinuating they’ve just been co-opted by a capitalist machine? What is wrong with you?
Steve and I had a lovely Valentine weekend. He surprised me by ordering a gourmet Valentine Dinner for two (or six, given the amount of food!) from a local caterer that came cooked and ready to heat and eat. We ate our dinner Saturday evening, and saved the amazing desserts for Sunday afternoon, after I made a light brunch of heart-shaped waffles and bacon. I’d already been enjoying the colorful flowers he had sent (I prefer something other than red roses), and he’s been munching on the Kentucky Bourbon Balls I had sent to him. We traded cards (none Hallmark incidentally), including a few from our cats, and he gave me a sweet pillow commemorating our first date.
We both try to show each other we care every day, but realistically, life is hard and often busy with work and home and healthcare responsibilities. Most nights we don’t linger over several courses of dinner, talking for more than an hour at the table. We don’t take the time every single day to write each other lengthy, loving notes or reminisce about happy memories together. We show each other love on the daily in other ways–sharing a morning hug, emptying the dishwasher so the other doesn’t have to do it, offering a cup of tea. But those aren’t quite the same as our Valentine or other special occasion celebrations. And while I know there are probably a few folks out there who manage something extraordinary every day, I suspect most people are more like us. Which means that a day set aside to celebrate love is a gift, a reason to slow down and do something special with and for one another.
Also, I meant what I said about the lesson of giving the whole class valentines. One of the other delights of my weekend was a Zoom call with a small group of girlfriends, wine and chocolate encouraged but not required. We visited virtually for a little over an hour on Saturday afternoon, catching up on each other’s lives, admiring each other’s kitties and pooches, sharing Netflix recommendations, and laughing. I celebrate love for my friends and family as part of Valentine’s Day, too. They fill a significant part of my heart, so why wouldn’t I?
I think of the many joys I would have missed over the years if I sniffed at Valentine’s Day. A fun overnight trip to Richmond with Steve, after we’d played in the snow in Roanoke and built a snow cat together. Spending several evenings making and trading handmade valentines with girlfriends. Purchasing the big metal flower sculpture that makes me smile every time I pass it in our hallway, on another trip Steve and I took to Floyd, where we visited local art galleries. Baking cookies last year for my writing center tutors. Choosing valentine cards to send to our sons.
Which, I suppose, is why I find it rather stingy to be a bah-humbugger about Valentine’s Day. From where I stand, it’s a mistake not to take every opportunity to celebrate every holiday you can, with all the joy and vigor and delight your heart calls forth, especially a holiday that honors love. None of us knows how many holidays we’ll get, and I say embrace every chance you have to be sappy and sentimental. Love is always worth celebrating, every day, including Valentine’s Day.
Much love to you, my friends.