It feels like I’ve always felt disdain for this random day in the middle of February. This day that, seemingly out of the blue, has the ability to make you feel crappy about yourself.
I have enough things in my life making me feel crappy; I don’t need any extras.
I’m not even sure why Valentine’s Day would make me feel bad. I don’t feel unloved. Is it because a dozen roses suddenly cost $100? I am crazy-cheap, but that’s not it. Is it because the only dinner reservations available are at 9:30 p.m. and the menu is limited? No. Is it because I am highly disturbed that there is a five-hour wait at the Olive Garden? Maybe.
Whatever the reason for my profound hatred, I don’t think I am alone. I’m pretty sure that, for myriad reasons, Valentine’s Day makes at least 85 percent of us feel like poop. (If you remove elementary school students from the data sample the number rises to 97.45 percent. And of that remaining 2.55 percent, 1.93 percent of those people own card shops, candy stores, restaurants or are florists, leaving 0.62 percent of the population that doesn’t feel even the mildest bit suicidal on Feb 14.)
The reasons for hating Valentine’s Day are as varied as the population: For those of us in committed relationships, Valentine’s Day rudely reminds us that the honeymoon is over.
For those of us who are not in love, not close to being in love, and haven’t met a decent available human in 21 dog years, then dear ole St. Valentine is the guy who turns the knife that is already in your soul’s back.
If you’re breaking up, or getting divorced, then Valentine’s Day — besides doing a dance on the shattered pieces of your former relationship — reminds you that soon you are going to have to start dating again, and that is going to be a really, really crappy experience.
Since I have always loathed Valentine’s Day, my husband and I have never celebrated it. So I was really surprised and delighted a few years ago when he brought home flowers, a sweet card and my favorite candy. I started to reconsider this wicked holiday. Maybe Valentine’s Day is a necessary evil because after years of marriage, men — who never do anything romantic — may consider romance if they are seriously pressured by all of society.
My new found enjoyment in the holiday surprised even me and it led to the most unfortunate state that can occur in a marriage. You see, the next year when my husband came home with nothing at all, I was devastated.
When I confronted him all hysterical, and crying, and frantically shredding his favorite pair of shorts, he said, “But you hate Valentine’s Day. You’ve told me for the last decade not to do anything.”
After two years of seething I may have to admit he was right.
How did I end up here? Disappointed? Wasn’t all this hatred of Valentine’s Day supposed to prevent the very situation that I was in? Turns out that solo positive holiday experience had raised the one thing that ruins more marriages than anything else combined, a condition that eats itself through all aspects of happily wed. That one surprise heightened the most pestilent, viral, destructive state, namely it gave me high expectations.
In Valentine’s Day’s defense, having (non-infant) kids has bought some of the magic back to the holiday. My boys and I bake cookies and we paint hearts to hang from the oak tree out front. We make hand-painted cards for our family using Glitter Glue!
It reminds me of when I was a kid and I actually liked Valentine’s Day, before adolescence morphed it into a competition of who is loved the most. It reminds me of when all my anticipation was wrapped around waiting for my mother to drive me to Eckerd’s so I could buy my box of valentines.
As we walked around the store, I would softly touch the large, red, cellophane-wrapped hearts filled with mystery chocolates. I would dream that one day Jimmy F. would hand me a heart and then ask me to ride on his bike’s handle bars.
Once we got home from Eckerd’s I would rush to my room and spread out the cards to see all the different variations. I would stack the cards into piles for my different friends.
One pile would be for the least love-y card, something that hopefully said a non-committal phrase like “You’re in my class!” but usually said “My friend” with hearts around it. This card would be used for icky boys. I would cringe as I wrote their names. What if someone thought that I loved them? How would I explain that Jesus told my mother to tell me that I had to write one card to every kid in class? (Oh, how I dreamed of having a cool mother that didn’t care about other kids’ feelings.)
Even with the icky cards, I loved licking the envelopes and writing my friends’ names on them. I loved choosing funny Be-Mine heart candies into the cards. I loved decorating them with stickers and crayons (before the invention of glitter glue).
What made Valentine’s Day great as a kid was that it was a day to tell everyone you cared for them, and not a day to have one special person say they care about you.
So if there is any chance that Valentine’s Day is going to find you at home, alone, on the couch eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s February Blend, Fat Free Lime-Alone Sorbet (also available in Self-Wallowing Mango) then I suggest you buy some glitter glue and spend your time telling everyone else what they mean to you.
Instead of feeling alone, this Valentine’s Day have a celebration with friends.
I, for one, have decided I am throwing a pity party.
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