Friday, February 15, 2008

I'll take Arbor Day any day

I hate Valentine's Day. There I've said it. I simply abhor Valentine's Day. That feels good.

My fear and loathing of Valentine's Day manifested itself later in life. In fact, Valentine's Day had very auspicious beginnings. As a child, I always got wonderful Valentine's Day cards from my parents. I remember one year, my father joined the hundreds (thousands?) of Courier Journal subscribers to purchase a few lines in the Valentine's Day insert to proclaim to the rest of the Louisville metropolitan area that his wife and two daughters were his valentines. We were wildly impressed, my sister and I, and demanded of our fellow classmates if their fathers had similarly professed their love for them. Many, it seems, but still. There's no better way to feel special than in print we thought.

Another good Valentine's Day experience was in the fourth grade when my "boyfriend," e.g., the boy I chased around the playground, presented me with a Valentine's Day card so large that he had to leave it on the desk behind me because it was too big to fit in my Valentine's Day box. He turned red. I turned red. He smiled shyly. I looked away. Alas, the relationship soon fizzled because neither of us could handle the attention that came from such a blatant display of affection. "He is not my boyfriend, in fact I can't stand him and his socks don't match."

College marked the end of any love I had for that most Hallmarky of faux holidays. For whatever reason, I never had a boyfriend or love interest on Valentine's Day. And woe to those who have no romantical of any kind on February 14th. The lobby of my dorm had vases upon vases upon arrangements upon clusters of red roses and pink balloons. A sea of blooms. Nary a petal for me. My sophomore year my best friend's boyfriend sent her a dozen red roses and me, a single miniature heart balloon on a stick. He didn't want me to feel left out on Valentine's Day. It was an incredibly sensitive, endearing thing for a 19 year old college boy to do. But I allowed myself to feel like a little balloon on a stick in sea of roses.

Valentine's Day lost its appeal for me soon after. There is no easier way to feel alone than on a day that caters only to couples. And even if you are part of a couple, the ubiquitousness of Valentine's Day can never be a fitting celebration of my love for my husband. It is precisely because he is nothing at all ordinary or universal or routine that I love him. To celebrate our couplehood on a day that every other couple celebrates theirs just doesn't seem fitting.

So we are a Valentine's Day free house. No hallmarks here on February 14th. Keep your helium heart balloons (and certainly the minature ones on a stick). Put the red roses back in the walk in (or just deliver them February 15th). You know what I mean.

I would rather have unplanned, unscripted Valentine's Days. Like the time E found a tiny, tiny bird's nest that had been abandoned. Perfect in it's shape, meticulous in its construction. He left it for me with a note. Or the time last year I spent an entire weekend sick with worry about something I had overlooked at work. I beat myself up, I couldn't eat, I successfully ruined my weekend and his. He sent me white roses that Monday. That's amore.

If I have a child someday, I will recognize Valentine's Day for her. We'll give her an iced sugar cookie (and I will test one from the same batch to ensure it's appropriately edible) or a cupcake. Or perhaps he'll get a new truck or ball for his collection. But I will tell her that my love for her cannot possibly be adequately summed up with a few trinkets on just one day. And I will tell him that he was, oh so very much wanted (then I will show him the 23g 1 1/2 needle and say, "look at the size of this thing, for crying out loud"). But she will have no doubt that she is my Valentine every day of the year.

If it's in the non-Valentines Day cards, that is.


Carrie said...

I hate Valentine's day too.
I don't like being told what to do at any time and being told that today is the day to demonstrate your feelings just seems so naff.

In any case, I think that actions speak louder than words. A card, flowers or some commercial gift won't make up for anything that is lacking.
Though I do agree, flowers on the 15th would go down verrrryyyy well!!

luna said...

I've always thought it was such a hallmark holiday. like carrie, I hate being told what to do and when to do it, especially when it involves pouring my heart out. I also hate being told when I should have sex, but er, isn't that the whole rest of my life? I don't need the added pressure of a freaking holiday.

and I hate that it serves to remind others what they don't have, like childless women on mother's day or men on father's day, or someone whose lost a parent.

that said, my hub is sort of a romantic and loves the chance to gush in a card, which can be kinda sweet. and we love any excuse for a nice dinner. but over time he's accepted some rules -- absolutely no roses (I can't stand the thought of how much they cost on vday), though flowers are welcome any and all other times. and if we go out it's on another night (fri. this year). but he still finds ways to celebrate and I then end up feeling badly that I haven't done something for him. so this year I made dinner.

sounds like you've got it all worked out...


Rebeccah said...

I have hated v-day for years for the same reasons that you list. This year we went out to a nice dinner on the 13th, which was quite enjoyable since the place wasn't packed with nervous V-day couples. I broke the unspoken rule and gave him a card on the 14th (I couldn't resist -- it was covered in red fur!), which made him feel guilty so he brought me roses, which then made me feel bad for making him feel guilty. Next year we'll just stick with dinner out on a day other than the 14th and be done with it.

Denise said...

Every year since we've been married, DH sends me flowers on February 14th, but they are not for Valentine's Day. They are to celebrate the month of February, an early St. Patty's Day, a late New Year's Day-anything other than Valentine's Day.

Honestly, the best Valentine's Day I ever had was when I was single. I went out with about 6 other single friends. We made dinner reservations at a very romantic restaurant and sat at a huge table in the middle of the restaurant surrounded by couples. We got obnoxious, drank and laughed a lot and basically annoyed all the love birds around us. We ended up closing the place down, drinking with the bartender. It was great!