Lamenting VD (Valentine’s Day)
You don’t have to be anti-Valentine’s Day to know there’s a lot more to love than celebrating it only one day a year.
There are a few things you learn about Valentine ’s Day growing up in America: roses are red, violets are blue, and if you don’t get a special Valentine’s Day card, gift or candy, then no one will love you. EVER.
Perhaps it sounds hysterical. But look closely at the logic: let’s pick one day in the dead of winter and create a universal expectation that that day, all of your greatest romantic fantasies will be fulfilled (and by the same person that leaves the seat up on the toilet, despite all pleas otherwise).
What if that day doesn’t work for you (seriously, how romantic can you get on a Tuesday night, when you’ve got an early morning meeting)? What about all those people that broke up last week, that can’t get a date (or don’t want one), and who don’t subscribe to conventional romantic stereotypes (e.g., “If you got me something with a heart on it, I’ll vomit on you. I am not six years old, thank you.”)
Hallmark pushes Valentine’s Day harder than a meth dealer outside of a run-down McDonalds (sorry, that is where they sell it in San Jose). It’s a day motivated entirely by commercialism. The second the New Year’s hats disappear at Target, everything goes into red overdrive. Corporations work so hard to convince you that buying your partner something special for this one day will make up for a year round emotional void. Even if you have a fantastic relationship, do you really want to feel like there’s only 24 hours to fulfill the other person’s every expectation (or be sent out to sleep in the dog house)?
Valentine’s Day sucks because it may have been different in years past, but now it has completely “sold out.” It’s as if Elvis were alive and insisted on selling those plates with his face on them. Seriously, if we really relied on Hallmark that much for romance, wouldn’t we watch more of the burned-out eighties actors on their own channel?
You don’t have to buy the person you love something to prove it. You don’t need to go out to dinner one night a year, with every other couple in your God-forsaken town at the exact same, velvety-cushioned restaurant to “be alone and romantic” together. You don’t even need to buy her/him jewelry that day, or suffer the glares and the “What the hell were you thinking actually buying me a cheesy heart necklace from Jared Jewelers” stares.
Why does Valentine’s Day blow in all the wrong ways? Every day should be full of romantic gestures in your relationship — never just one. And no, they don’t have to be big.
Real love is about small gestures all the time. Love is about always saying, “Thank you,” and giving smiles, and hugs, and affectionate glances across the room. Romance is about being there for your partner, understanding them, and running out for a quickie with them in the backyard shed when you feel like your in laws will never leave. It’s about the struggle to stay tuned in to one another and enjoy each other’s company. It’s about mindfulness and kindness — not eating chocolates jammed into ill-fitting cellophane heart boxes while weeping away to Celine Dion CDs. And even if that romantic day you share is only one out of another few hundred that you’re feeling frisky and mushy — let us pick our own damn days for love — so we’re not so pressured to be romantic that performance anxiety peaks before our morning coffee is even over.
What messages did you learn, growing up, about Valentine’s Day?