I have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday with murky beginnings that has evolved into a huge money-maker for the greeting card business. Why the hate? Because, much like New Year’s Eve, it’s always been a big fat disappointment. A lot of hoopla that never lives up to the hype. Maybe it’s me, but I feel like Valentine’s Day is all about comparisons and everyone knows that comparison is the thief of joy.
My hate for Valentine’s Day has been a long time in the making. It started when I was a young girl and would wake up to a card, some candy, and maybe a little bear from my parents. Sure, I was thrilled to get something, until I went to school and was bombarded by my friends (okay, friend) who received beautiful jewelry from her father, which made my little white bear look pretty lame. As it turns out, long before social media existed, it was still possible to feel bad about your own life, all you needed were one or two spoiled friends who liked to brag and whose parents were a tad bit excessive. I can’t even imagine what Valentine’s Day is like now for kids. How many love themed Instagrams do you think they have to endure, before they declare themselves loveless losers doomed to a life of loneliness?
As I got older, Valentine’s Day became less about a token of love from my parents and more about tokens of “love” from the opposite sex, which I’m sure I received none of while in middle school, which is probably normal, but again, when you have a friend or two whose normal is being adored by the opposite sex, well, then your lack of Valentine’s becomes a black mark on your soul. How’s that for middle school drama?
By high school, if I didn’t have a boyfriend then I was just ready for the damn day to be over already. Yea, it’s all about love, unless you don’t have any love in your life, and then it’s 24 hours of feeling like a loser. Of course, that was also the exact time of year that student council sold candy grams as a fundraiser. For Valentine’s Day, students could buy candy and attach a love note to be delivered to their object of affection’s homeroom, while the loveless loser sat next to them embarrassed by their own empty desk. If you were lucky, a kind friend with a little extra change would send you one, as well as that secret crush, who you were well aware of but played dumb, because they were the last person on earth you wanted to go out with. Good times.
College was no better, but at least, there were parties with plenty of beer to help you forget about the godforsaken “holiday.”
You would think as I matured into a cynical young adult that Valentine’s Day would have lost its power over me, but you would be wrong. At that stage in my life, my friends were my social life, so if Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend and I was the only single lady, then my ass was sitting home, condemned to watching sappy love movies and commercials that just reinforced what I already knew. Nobody loved me.
As my boyfriend became steady and eventually turned into my husband, I still found the pressure of Valentine’s Day to be overwhelming, and in the end, disappointing. Why? Because that’s how all things that are artificial and overly hyped end. Have you ever gone out to dinner on Valentine’s Day? If you have, then you’re familiar with price fixed menus, cheesy chocolate roses, and below average food and service. Have you ever worked on Valentine’s Day? Then you have experienced the woman who receives roses from her boyfriend or husband, while your desk remains empty and you murmur vague things about what your significant other has planned for that night, even though you know there’s nothing. Who cares that you have told your husband a thousand times not to waste money on flowers that you don’t feel like becoming a slave too. Doesn’t he know how bad he’s making you look by not getting roses delivered to your place of work? Surely, he must not love you as much as Jane’s husband loves her.
Having children has just compounded the problem. Of course, I want to give my children tokens of love on Valentine’s Day, well, not really, I buy them enough, but there’s no way I’m not showing up without a gift. I can’t imagine sending them off to school without some candy packed in their lunch bag, so they don’t sit stewing all day over the fact that Johnny got candy and a new Xbox game, while they got nothing. But my children, especially my middle son, has a way of over hyping things, thus insuring his own disappointment and my personal hell. He has been discussing Valentine’s Day for three weeks, now (for the record, he is also discussing Easter), and he keeps asking me what I’m going to buy him.
What? How did we get here?
I have purposely kept Valentine’s Day simple, a red bag, some candy, a card, and a little, were talking under ten dollars, present. Yet, I can’t help feel like he is expecting more. He will be disappointed and no matter how unjustified my child is in feeling that way (but understandable, since I was once there, too, with my jewelry laden friend) it only continues to make Valentine’s Day a huge disappointment.
But there’s no escaping February 14th, the world will smile and profess their love for one another when they should have been professing their love all year long. Women and girls will hope to be wooed, while only a few wise men will figure out that Valentine’s Day really isn’t about them, but about giving the women in their life a way to brag, and the real wise men will have been showing their love all year long. Meanwhile, the rest of us will plunk down obscene amounts of money for words written by strangers printed on colorful card stock, purchase candy that is slowly killing us while making our children hyper, and buy stuffed animals that will only be tossed aside.
Happy Valentine’s Day.