My Google Reader is bursting with doves and hearts and Ten Ways to Show Your Man You Love Him. My son and daughter are at the dining room table, furiously scrawling names upon Angry Birds and My Little Pony cards, respectively, to which they are stapling heart-shaped Jolly Rancher suckers. Yes, stapling. Nothing else worked. Our local grocery store looks like Cupid upchucked. I’m wondering, as I do each year, whether my valentine-related apathy means I’m somehow miswired, my Inner Romantic stunted.
When I was a little girl, each year my father would quietly slip a red box of chocolates somewhere he knew I’d be sure to find it: on my little desk, my breakfast chair, at the foot of my bed. He’d attach a card that read something like, “to my little Valentine, until someone comes along to take my place.” The sweet memory still makes me smile.
Dad set the bar high.
I was quiet and tomboyish in grade school, and that means I was largely a spectator in the “give the pretty/cute person a special valentine” game. We need not discuss middle school (can you say gap-toothed?). High school was too high pressure; most of the girls I knew twittered about for a month prior to the big day. If they didn’t have a valentine in time, they came down with a bona fide case of the vapors. After high school, forget it. Years of relationship misfires, during which Valentine’s Day always managed to show up just in time to mock me.
Then I met The One. His journey was a lot like mine and, fifteen years and two kids later, we’ve yet to celebrate a single Valentine’s Day. We’ve just looked on from a distance, bemused by all the kafuffle. About ten years ago on Valentine’s eve, I asked him if he thought it was okay that we didn’t celebrate. He shrugged. “Sure.” I let out a relieved breath, because I’d done exactly nothing for him.
This year, the Hallmark love seems exceptionally intense, so I decided to revisit.
Me: Why don’t we celebrate Valentine’s Day? Are we just boycotting the commercialization or whatever?
Him: I guess I never thought about it.
Me: You know, my dad was my valentine when I was little. But the time between leaving him and finding you left me a bit…disenchanted.
Him: Me too. Honestly, I don’t need a holiday to remind me that I love you. Romance and stuff, it needs to come from the heart. Not Hallmark. I’d rather plan and surprise you with a date night whenever I want. Not because the calendar says I’m supposed to.
Me: You seem to have strong feelings about this.
Him: I don’t like to be told what to do.
Me: Yeah, me neither!
So that’s it, finally articulated: we spread out our Valentine’s Day. For us, it works. But we fully support all you Cupid-lovers out there – and we wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day!
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at FreeDigitalPhotos.net