Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day - great intentions gone wrong

Alright, it's time for mama's annual soapbox about love, appreciation of your significant other... and Valentine's Day.

To begin with, I would like to point out that I am an absolutely hopeless romantic. I swoon when my husband brings me a bar of my favorite organic chocolate, and STILL get all fluttery when he holds my hand, or calls me “honey.” We have been together now for over half our lives, and in two short weeks we will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. In honor of this, we will be visiting a bed-and-breakfast that actually serves a gluten-free vegetarian breakfast where we shall dine on a hand-packed picnic dinner before a roaring fire, before availing ourselves of the six-foot round hot tub, to soothe our arthritic joints. And the next day, after spending the morning gleefully sleeping in & having someone else serve us breakfast, we will pack up the kids to go on a private horse-drawn sleigh ride in the country.

I LOVE to find ways to show my husband how much I love him. During the summer, I will take the car after he's fallen asleep, fill up the gas tank and sneak his favorite energy-drink into the cupholder for him to discover in the morning. I like to call & chat with him every single day during his lunch-break, and again during his drive home from work. I like to email him little jokes or photos that make me laugh... or just to say “Hey, did I remember to say “I love you” before you headed out the door?” And lest anyone think that this is a one-way situation, my husband is equally inclined to show me daily how much I mean to him. I am currently healing from a particularly aggressive bout of shingles that infected my eye. And since this happened, I have not cleaned a single dish – nor prepared more than the most mundane of meals. My husband, who works nearly 70 hours per week, has been keeping the kitchen spotless AND preparing special vegan meals for me for the past month... and I haven't heard a single word of complaint. And on top of all that, he has been frivolously spending his vacation time driving me to every single one of my doctor's appointments, helping the kids keep the rest of the house in order, and tucked me into bed by 8pm each night before staying up to straighten the living areas. Yet he still remembered that our anniversary is coming up, booked us a wonderful night away from home, and has been discussing possible finger-foods for our picnic dinner. Now if that isn't love, I don't know what is!

But every year, as we pack away our Christmas goodies and start browsing seed catalogs in anticipation of spring... we are faced with Valentine's Day. And oh, how I loathe it!

“Buy your sweetheart a dozen red roses to show her how much you love her!”
“Hallmark... when you care enough to send the very best!”
“Joe's Diner: Steak & Seafood Valentine's Special – call now for reservations!”
and then there's my husband's all-time favorite. “If you REALLY love her, buy her this diamond necklace... on sale now!”

Men, believe it or not, some girls actually can't STAND roses! Know what would make MY knees turn to jelly? A $5 bunch of daisies from the grocery store... because THAT is my favorite flower! Here's my quick-tip for men everywhere, hoping to impress their girl this weekend. Get her a bunch of her absolute favorite flowers, instead of the obligatory red roses this year. Likewise with the dinner-out approach. Sure, I can see that if you both have a full-time job the concept of having someone else cook dinner & clean up afterwards is appealing. But honestly, how romantic is that dinner going to be after waiting for 45 minutes to be seated, when the entire place is packed to the roof with other people who had the exact same idea for dinner? Dinner out is great – but for a romantic evening out, why not wait for a less busy day?

Then there's the store-bought greeting card. Rather than rant for hours, I will quote the comedian Jim Gaffigan. “That's an odd ritual really, where we go out and buy cards that already have things written in them... I'll just add my name here at the bottom... Here ya go!” Honestly, what happened to hand-made Valentines? It doesn't take much effort to place a few stickers onto a sheet of paper, and hand-write a message... yet how many people do this anymore? And sure, I know some people think they're not "talented" enough to cut a simple paper heart. Five years ago my husband & I started emailing each other free e-cards every day during the month of February. Someone else “decorated” the cards... but we write the sentiments ourselves. This is FREE – yet it is so much more meaningful to me, than a pink card with some naked cupid could ever be. Sheesh, I don't even LIKE pink!

And the jewelry. What is a guy supposed to do these days to show his girl that he really REALLY loves her... if she's allergic to metal? My husband cringes every year from Thanksgiving to March as the radio chastises him for not properly showing his love for me with some lifeless chunk of metal & rock. Sure these things are pretty, and every once in awhile I think it might be nice to be able to wear them myself. But having developed an allergy to all metals but platinum a dozen years ago, these things are forbidden to me. I don't need a shiny rock on my finger to show me how much my husband loves me, he shows me each & every day.

I think that the IDEA of Valentine's day is a great one. We should all take time out from our busy lives to show our loved ones how much they mean to us. But for heaven's sake, can we please use a little imagination rather than following the crowd? In our house, Valentine's Day is a family day. With our wedding anniversary less than two weeks away, we keep Valentine's Day low-key to save money... and then splurge on the post-holiday clearance goodies as inexpensive goodies for our OWN special day. This year the kids & I have planned an entire day's worth of wonderful home-cooked goodies, and the kids have chosen a few movies for us to watch as a family in the evening. There are handmade paper decorations sprinkled throughout the house, and my daughter has already laid our her all-red outfit for the day.

Now if your loved-one likes flowers, BUY them flowers... but get them their favorites, not the ones we've been conditioned to send! If they DON'T like flowers, what's wrong with a new game for their favorite console, and an evening reserved to play with them? Maybe your sweetie has been craving tacos... what's wrong with fast food for dinner? This year for Valentine's Day, I would like to challenge my friends & family to find new, creative and non-standard ways to show their loved ones how much they mean to each other. Let's reclaim the holiday from the grasp of commercialism and REALLY show them that we care.

And please... let me know what you do! I'm always hunting for new & creative ideas myself!

No comments: