This is promising to be a very romantic Valentine’s day. DH installed a wood stove in our living room fireplace last night, and we woke up to a burner full of smouldering red-hot coals. Do you know how cosy it is to sit on the hearth with your sweetie on a cold winter morning, coffee in hand, your back to a hot stove? Add to that the giant white blanket of foot-deep snow outside, and there’s enough heat going on that the furnace probably won’t kick on for hours in our house! What a nice way to wake up.
DH and I like Valentine’s Day. But we don’t profess our love to each other the way FTD, Hallmark and Hershey say we should. Instead of flowers, which are full of pesticides and fungicides, or chocolates, whose social impact is almost as terrible as its environmental one, we eschew traditional trifles for much simpler, sweeter sentiments- like home-made cookies, or hubby’s favorite: apple pie.
We don’t get into the jewelry thing, either. Never have. While every kiss on TV might begin with a “K”, ours begins with lips (and sometimes ends with a little tongue… shhh!). I don’t need a piece of crystalline carbon in my hand to be certain my sweetie is sweet on me. I find it terribly insulting, actually. Those jewelry ads suggest that our love isn’t fully validated unless we shell out a buttload of money for some glittery piece of bling. And then, I’m supposed to wear said bling on my neck / finger / wrist, showing it off to people as if to say, “Hey! I’m taken! My husband /boyfriend/fiance bought me with this!!” I can’t believe women still find the whole notion romantic. I think it just smacks of archaic patriarchy. And I’m not even a feminist.
And while we’re on the subject of jewelry, can we just talk fiscal sanity here for a moment? Forget the whole master-miss thing, put aside the social horrors of the diamond trade, and focus for one second on just what you’re spending all that money on. When I saw the Master Card commercial with the Japanese bride (I think they call it “Meet the Japanese Parents”), and they mention that her ring cost $9,000…. OMG! WTF?!?! That’s a huge downpayment on a house! Or it’s a nice honeymoon and a good-size downpayment on a house. Or a car. Or paying off some of your student loans. And where in the world would you go with $9,000 in your pocket, let alone hanging out on your finger for the whole world to covet and possibly steal from you? It boggles my mind.
Anyway, let’s see… I mentioned some of the environmental and social issues around Valentine’s Day already. We’ve touched on the flowers, the candy, the jewelry. The things you’re supposed to give to say “I love you”. Well, call me crazy, but I really don’t want any of those things. Oh, don’t get me wrong- getting a bouquet still gives me butterflies, and I love chocolate as much as the next woman. (And I do have two jewelry gifts that I adore, so I’m not totally un-girlie.) But I want a gift that comes from a spontaneous, “oh, I just saw this and thought of you!” kind of feeling, not a sense of obligation. At the grocery store yesterday, waiting in line to buy some Emergency Pantry items for our impending snowstorm, I noticed several guys standing in the Express lane. They all looked glum. They looked like they were really at the DMV or the doctor’s office instead of the grocery store. Every one of them held an obligatory trinket: a bouquet of flowers, a heart-shaped balloon, a Russell Stover box. The guys didn’t want to be there. They weren’t excited about these gifts. They weren’t buying them because they had this burning desire to shower their sweetheart with expressions of affection. They were there because TV said they had to be there. They were there out of fear: fear of being wrong, fear of not fitting in to society’s picture of a Good Man, fear of pissing off whoever the intended recipient was, etc. Well, ladies, Valentine’s Day goes both ways. The guy should know he’s loved, too, right? So my man gets Off The Hook. I don’t expect any of that commercial crap, and he doesn’t have to rush around on February 13 looking for something red and heart-shaped to avoid sleeping on the couch the next night.
That’s not to say it isn’t fun to give token gifts on Valentine’s Day, and we do. I like making hubby a card, or sticking a pink-iced donut in the bread drawer the night before. Now that we have kids, they get in on the action, too- scribbling their own hearts and love notes with crayons on construction paper. It’s very heartwarming when DD1 comes up to me with a card in her fist and says, “This is from My Daddy for you.” Makes me melt. What better symbol of our love together is there than our kids?
So, while some intelligensia might scorn Valentine’s Day for its contrived notions and its Walmartishness, we embrace it. The spirit of the day, anyway. We just celebrate in our own way, without spending tons of money on silly things that aren’t really good for us or the planet anyhow. We have learned that, like Christmas and all the other Buy Me holidays, it’s not what you spend it on- it’s who you spend it with.