Ah, Valentine’s Day. The most Hallmark of holidays is upon us. Extravagant deliveries of overpriced red roses, ginormous boxes of candy and all things “romantic” are exploding in workplaces and homes around the world (or at least America). Likely as you read this.
And since we live in a society of over-sharing, our Facebook and Instagram feeds will be overwhelmed with carefully curated images of the bounty bestowed upon the account owner by their well-trained significant others. Or themselves.
I’m not a fan.
No, I’m not a bitter, lovelorn spinster who has never been on the receiving end of such displays of excess. Nor do I have a tragic Valentine’s Day story that spurs my loathing for this holiday.
Instead, my anti-Valentine’s Day stance arises from three sources.
I really hate any activity that promotes exclusion or a “mean girl” vibe. And that, my friends, is unfortunately what this particular holiday does. In spades. Or should I say hearts?
I recall all those Valentine Days spent in the cubicled world of a 9-5 job. Far too many of my female colleagues anxiously awaited the beckoning to the front desk for collection of their romantic shows of affection. The bigger or more exotic, the better. God help you if you didn’t have a significant other to shower you with public affection on this holiest of relationship days. You may as well have called in sick. Or at least had the foresight to arrange a delivery to yourself.
Of course, if I’m completely honest, when I was in my early 20s and single, I often gazed longingly over the top of my cubicle wall at the bouquets of blood red roses parading past me down the hall. How could you miss them? The proud recipient was practically hoisting the arrangement in the air like the Lombardi trophy after a Superbowl win. Thankfully, I matured since those early days of blossom jealousy.
Then when I was in my 30s and (seemingly) happily married to my now ex-husband, I unwittingly transitioned into becoming the awkward recipient of said sprays. (Sprays of guilt, as it turns out.) Each year I asked him to refrain. The next year the display just got bigger (as did the guilt?). And more expensive.
Which brings me to the second reason I really dislike Valentine’s Day.
Could this particular holiday be any more overpriced? I’m sorry, but practical me (the girl who grew up poor in a trailer park) just has to scratch my head at a $100+ bouquet of long-stemmed red roses. Roses that will immediately begin decaying and be dead within the week. The same roses that would have cost half the price the week before. No thanks.
Same with a dinner out that suddenly costs 2x what it would most any other night of the year. Even here on this tiny rock, I’m seeing Valentine’s dinner packages that are a cool $65 per person, alcohol excluded. (I think we all know my tab would vault well beyond $130.) “All in” menus offered by restaurants not exactly renowned for their culinary prowess. Ok, you’re throwing in some “romantic white chocolate mousse” for dessert, but come on. I just don’t believe you’re going to give me value. You’re just profiting on your belief that I am a woman who has the need to be seen in public being lavished with attention on the 14th of February. A woman eating dishes she probably would never order off the a la carte menu. Does it get any more herd-like?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely adore a fantastic evening of Michelin star dining. It is just that I prefer to do my fine dining when it is more about the food, conversation and company, and less about the “see and be seen” aspect of the night.
So rather than go out for an overpriced meal, my husband and I will be staying in and preparing dinner to eat al fresco on our own terrace. Like we do most every night. Yes, we will have to wait on ourselves, but we can also focus on undistracted discussion over good food with a great bottle of wine and endless sea views. With the rest of our pack lounging nearby. While we are wearing shorts & t-shirts. Now that’s my kind of dinner – any night of the year.
Which segues nicely into the third reason I’m not a fan of cupid.
In a nutshell, my philosophy on demonstrations of affection is that you should be doing them because you want to, not because big money corporations demand that you should. Which means June 6th or September 24th or April 17th are all just as worthy days as February 14th to show someone you love them. If you’re only getting showered with attention and affection on one particular day of the year, there is something really wrong with that picture.
And that begs the question of who, exactly, should be doing the showering. Regardless of your relationship status, if you’re waiting for someone else to validate your awesome worthiness for love, then please STOP!!!
The most important person who should be showering you with affection, regardless of the date on the calendar, is…YOU!
That’s right. Single, coupled or something else (hey…this is a non-judgment zone, people), you damn well better be showing yourself some love on the daily (and no, I’m not talking about masturbation…although science says you should probably be doing that, too). How you shower yourself with affection is totally up to you. To each her own, right?
For me it went something like this (back in Seattle anyway): Get a pedicure. Buy myself a nice solo lunch – with wine – in my favorite café. Stroll through the public market and splurge on that very big bouquet of wild flowers bursting with color. I did all these things quite regularly, and always felt like a million bucks afterwards.
And while I seriously cannot remember many of the details of those overpriced roses I received every year from my ex, I clearly recall the taste of the wine as I sipped it while gazing over Puget Sound. And the scent of the flowers as I carried them through the market, then arranged them in a vase back at home.
These days, my island self-love looks a little bit different. I treat myself to a long walk by myself on my favorite stretch of sandy beach. Or I head out early for a solo paddle session on my SUP. The point is, I no longer wait for anyone else to lavish me with attention.
Of course, I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t revel in shows of affection from somebody else. You most definitely should. And if somebody wants to genuinely do it, then lap that shit up, ladies! My point is that you shouldn’t rely exclusively on someone else to feel good about yourself. And if you do let someone into your life, they damn well better be offering these displays beyond only February 14th!
But whether you’re flying solo or doing the tandem thing, don’t ever, ever, ever forget to focus on you. Go forth and book that spa appointment. Make that reservation (for one!) at your favorite restaurant. Take a long walk in the woods. Whatever floats your boat.
And as Valentine’s Day stretches on (it will be over eventually!), remember that it wasn’t always about red roses and boxes of chocolate. (Animal sacrifices? Forced orgies? Executions? Eek!) And thank your lucky stars you weren’t an ancient Roman.