I recently posted an informal poll for my followers on my Facebook fan page asking readers to vote on which blog topic they wanted me to write about this week. The winning topic was “My favorite Valentine’s day tradition”.
You’re probably not going to like my answer. I usually get all schmoopy around holidays, but Valentine’s day is another story. It’s a retail holiday, you guys. There’s no spiritual meaning to it. No patriotic meaning. No meaning at all except that we’re all made to feel that we have to observe it or it means we don’t love our husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends…whatever.
If I’m being honest, the last time I had fun on Valentine’s day was when I was a little girl. Remember what it was like to be a kid and go to the store and see all those red and pink little boxes with differently themed Valentine cards? How exciting!
At my school, we were given a brown paper lunch sack to decorate with red and pink tissue and glue and glitter and crayons. Any blank piece of paper, even a bag, was an inspiration to me. I was always so excited for Valentine’s day…and I loved picking out just the perfect box of Valentines to give to my friends and classmates.
By the time I was a teenager, Valentine’s Day was already losing its appeal. I was a cute enough girl, but I was beyond shy around boys and I didn’t wear all the cute, fashionable clothes or flirt or go to dances. I didn’t know what to do around boys. So every Valentine’s Day the girls would get all giggly and the boys would give out valentines to the girls who caught their eye…but it was never me. So by the time I graduated high school, it was already just another reminder that I wasn’t enough of something. Not pretty enough. Not skinny enough. Not…enough.
As a single woman in my twenties and thirties, it just got worse. If I was dating someone, everything was rainbows and kittens. If I wasn’t, I was just made to feel more alone by the endless sappy jewelry commercials and news stories about romantic proposals. It was everywhere. And work is the worst on Valentine’s Day. An endless parade of florists delivering huge expensive bouquets to my female co-workers who were either married or dating Mr. Right.
And then I met HMH. Well, we were friends for five years on the phone (via work) before we ever met in person – but once we met in person, we were inseparable. We moved in together on Valentine’s Day weekend. The following year, he made the world’s worst marriage proposal on Valentine’s Day (it’s a long story and he’s damn lucky I said yes). After that, we just settled into normal life and that was that.
So my favorite Valentine’s Day tradition is…paying no attention whatsoever to Valentine’s Day. And I invite you to do the same.
It made me feel shitty for years as a single girl. It puts seriously awful pressure on a lot of men, honestly. Just yesterday I saw a commercial for jewelry where a guy gives his wife or girlfriend a gift box over dinner, she opens it with excitement…and then her smile fades and she looks up at him and says something like “Where’s the real one?”
What the actual fuck, people!
Other ads prey on men by guilt tripping them into paying five times more for a bouquet of flowers that they’d pay much less for on any other damn day. Jewelry store ads attempt to pull at our heartstrings with step-dads giving little step-daughters diamond pendants that match the one he just gave mommy. Restaurants woo guys with special dinner prices and heart shaped desserts.
As women, we’re pressured with ads for lingerie and magazine articles telling us how to get that hot body before the big day. Or, my favorite, top ten tips for pleasing your man in bed. Wow. You’re with someone who wants to boink you. Know how to find out how to please him? ASK. Holy shit. Just talk about what you like and don’t like.
The Valentine thing is all bullshit. Seriously.
HMH and I both work hard for our money and the things we have – but HMH has a very physically demanding job. He works his ass off. How loving is it of me to throw a bunch of bullshit expectations on him about a made-up holiday? When I see those commercials, I don’t want HMH to buy me jewelry or roses…I want to smack the shit out of the advertising jerks who insinuate that my darling hubby is some sort of failure if he doesn’t buy me their crap.
When you’re in a healthy, loving relationship every day is Valentine’s Day…and that should be the same whether your relationship is with yourself OR a significant other. Just because you’re not dating anyone doesn’t mean you’re lacking in some way. Don’t buy into the bullshit.
Valentine’s Day is a giant guilt trip.
It’s as simple as this: if you’re single and Valentine’s Day smacks of loneliness I want you to stand up, square your shoulders and yell BULLSHIT at the top of your damn lungs. DO IT!!! Because that’s what it is. BULLSHIT.
If you have a significant other, take it easy on them. Give them a break. If you both enjoy schmooping out on Valentine’s Day, then I say go for it…but if you’re both spending tons of time wondering what the hell to buy the other one, then why? What’s the purpose really?
When HMH wants a new vinyl record or I want a new needlework pattern, we get it. That’s how we are. If I’m at the antique mall with the girls and I see some vinyl he’d like…I pick it up. And yes, HMH actually bought me a needlework pattern for my Christmas stocking one year. Occasionally, we buy each other our favorite candy…or some other trinket we see around. But we don’t need to be bought stuff in order to feel that we’re loved.
The only people I’m inclined to buy Valentine’s gifts for are my co-workers sometimes…or my fur persons. Those things are still fun for me when they’re in the budget. Otherwise, it’s just another day…as it should be. Except the day after. Candy is 50% off, bitches.
Let’s all go buy ourselves a treat.
Maybe we should start a new Valentine’s Day tradition. Instead of being pressured to spend money on others in the name of love, maybe we could just look in the mirror and smile at the person smiling back at us. Let’s accept that we’re all beautifully flawed, amazing humans worthy of love.
And maybe go back to decorating paper sacks…because that shit’s always fun.
So what’s YOUR favorite Valentine’s Day tradition?