There’s a reason why I hate Valentine’s Day. It has nothing to do with being spurned by a lover or being single on The Big Day. There is no connection between my distaste for the holiday and a tragedy — though having a horrific allergic reaction to quinoa should be a part of it. I purely dislike Valentine’s Day simply because it is an unnecessary holiday.
Valentine’s Day creates far too much stress and pressure in any sort of relationship dynamic. I remember when my husband and I were fresh into our new marriage and it was one of our first married Valentine’s Days as a Mr. and Mrs. We were young and had bought into the whole Day of Romance ideology yet we weren’t all to prepared for it either. We were brand new parents — our son was only two months old — and didn’t even consider that hiring a babysitter would be close to impossible where we live. At the time, we lived in a college town with young couples in similar situations such as ours. All young with young children and all doing the best they can to woo their spouses in semi-spectacular ways.
So we brought our baby with us to dinner. He was a newborn and was actually no problem at all — slept the entire time. Unfortunately, we also lived in a town with restaurants that didn’t believe in reservations. Everything was packed solid with Valentine’s diners. You would think my two month old newborn would have been the grumpiest person. I can assure you — he was not! Finally, after waiting over an hour (or maybe more, my blood sugar was low and all went hazy) we were finally seated. Service was terrible. I couldn’t blame the server for the poor service. What a night! The food took an other hour to arrive. By the time the whole experience was over everyone was in a foul mood. Except the baby who had slept through the whole thing and I was extraordinarily jealous of him.
After that night, my husband and I learned to postpone our Valentine’s celebration by a week at least. Over the years, though, it became less important. And this is why:
Valentine’s Day, like too much in our culture, has become all about the overture and less about the people involved. Why do we spend so much money — yet again — on flowers or presents or food or elaborate dates when what we should be doing is simply saying we love people? Love is not demonstrated by extravagant gift wrapping or roses. It’s shown by presence and time. Yet somehow, after already spending our way through the holidays, we have been programmed to believe that we need to spend our way through emotional connection, too. And not only that, we have also been told that if we don’t have “a sweetheart” who buys us love than we are not worth anything.
Because all we need is one more category of “us vs. them” in this life, right?
So sure, I skip Valentine’s Day because I my sweethearts know I love them every day. They know it because I take care of them and tell them so. I kiss and hug them. I buy their favorite treats at the grocery store. I fold their laundry and hide funny pictures in their school binders. I call them everyday around the same time and chat about nothing. I text them random pictures when they’re at work because I know they’ll laugh. My sweethearts get spoken to while we’re in line waiting for a cashier and I let them merge in front of me on the freeway. (Except the guy who rear ended me last week; I’m not sure I consider him a sweetheart.)
Everyone else can enjoy their red roses and chocolates or heart-shaped pizzas — whatever makes their hearts flutter or gets them the diamond ring. I don’t need a Valentine when I’ve got a little girl to read books to and a boy who thinks I don’t know he’s behind in math.
(I always know.)