It’s February 14 and today I’m writing about, what else…Valentine’s Day. Is this a day you look forward to as soon as New Year’s passes? Do you decorate your home with red hearts and pink cupids? Do you buy diaphanous lingerie, and look forward to exchanging flowers, cards & chocolates with your sweetheart? Or, do you dread its arrival like a root canal? Do you ignore the pre-Valentine hype, and wear stark black in revolt against the card makers and florists, and go out with your singleton friends to mock coupledom? Do you feel this holiday was created to personally torture you? According to Wikipedia “the day was first associated with romantic love in the High Middle Ages. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines“).”
My feelings about Valentine’s Day could best be described as mixed. It goes back to junior high, at a time when it was no longer mandatory to pass out cheap 2X3 inch cards to an entire classroom full of red, heart–decorated, tissue boxes. A time when hormones raged rampantly and your self-esteem fluctuated by the hour. When Valentine’s Day arrived in junior high, if you didn’t have a sweetheart you tortuously watched other girls carry around red flowers, cuddly stuffed animals, or heart shaped balloons. Your eyes followed those balloons as they floated down the hall behind the lucky teenager. Needless to say there were a number of Valentine Day’s when I was relegated to “envious girl, pretending not to care.”
During high school, if you planned ahead, you and some of your other singleton girlfriends would buy each other white “friend” flowers or balloons just so you, too, could receive a delivery during fifth period. There were years I had a sweetheart in the pocket. Oh, the joy of joys, for then I was the girl to envy. I remember one high school boyfriend gave me a small heart with a teeny tiny ruby in it. A very generous gift and one, I’m sure, I brazenly flaunted. I still have that petite heart, and occasionally I wear it with three differing sized hearts that I have since received over the Valentine years.
Valentine’s Day in college came and went, similar to high school, sometimes single, sometimes coupled. College seemed to be a little less stressful as a singleton. You didn’t have a delivery boys interrupting English 101, or biology lab, and at my university if you tried walking across campus with a surfeit of balloons in February, you’d blow away like Mary Poppins. One year, as a college singleton, I was so tuned out to the Valentine hype that a girlfriend and I went to a movie, (aptly named Boys on the Side) and stopped at an overflowing restaurant for dinner. “It’s a Wednesday night, why is it so full?” We asked each other. As we bellied up to the bar the hanging hearts and pink balloons clued us in. “Doh! It’s Valentine’s Day!”
One memory remains constant through those tumultuous, romantically challenged years; every February 14th I would come down for breakfast to find a card and small heart-shaped box full of gooey chocolates. My wonderful parents always made my sister and I feel special and loved on the day. During college I looked forward to receiving a Valentine care package from Mom and Dad. Even today I still receive a Valentine card from my parents letting me know they love me.
I’ll be celebrating my fourteenth wedding anniversary this year, so I’ve been part of a couple over fifteen Valentine’s Days. My mother’s tradition carries on in my household; every February 14th I provide heart covered cards with silly sayings, and boxes of chocolates for my children, and my husband. However, even though I’m coupled up, and my husband always provides beautiful flowers, chocolates and occasionally jewelry, my emotions about the holiday can still be described as mixed.
I kvetch over the fact that it’s such a hassle to have one more holiday for which I have to buy stuff! I think to myself – it’s just scheme, between Hallmark and Flowers.com, to jack up their prices so they can laugh all the way to the bank at the poor schmucks who buy into this glorified cherub’s holiday. Chocolates flood the stores at a time while I’m invariably still dieting, to remove the weight I gained during the Christmas Holidays. There have been years I’ve gloomily told my husband, “Don’t buy me chocolate.” Attaining a table at a restaurant on V. Day can be akin to getting into a Walmart on Black Friday at two in the morning. Moreover, once you have children, finding a teen reliable enough to commit to babysitting, and one who won’t back out if she gets a better offer from her own boyfriend, can be a challenge unto itself.
On the other hand, every year my heart lights up when my husband arrives home, bearing an aromatic bouquet of flowers and a big, sappy card. In the morning my kids excitedly produce homemade cards written in an unsteady hand and still tacky with glue, to my delight. And, though my youngest can’t read yet, he is delighted with the cheap little Spider Man and Barbie valentines given to him by his preschool friends. He carries them around for weeks. So, as much as I complain about the stress and commercialism of Valentine’s Day, I don’t think I’m quite willing to give up on cupid’s holiday.
Take heart singleton’s, your day will come. If you’re unconnected this Valentine’s Day get your girlfriends together, crack open a bottle of your favorite wine, and watch movies that glorify strength of single women, such as The First Wives Club, Beaches, or even Boys on the Side. Leave the romance to the couples, and enjoy the freedom of being single.