Why I Embraced Valentine's Day This Year
Hear it. Say it. Love it. Happy Valentine's Day! I used to be a Valentine's Day hater on the "this isn't even a real holiday, it's a commercial fabrication for greeting card and candy companies" train. But guess what? Hallmark and Hershey's did not invent this day (although they do indeed benefit from it -- as does basically every company engaging in smart marketing and advertising).
Valentine's Day was originally an ancient Roman celebration of fertility. It took a Christian turn in the 400s (did you catch that? The 400s, when Hallmark and Hershey weren't even a twinkle in someone's imagination, haters) when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a celebration of Saint Valentine. No romance involved.
It wasn't until the 1300s that sweet, sweet lovin' became associated with the day, the 1600s that Europeans donned the tradition of exchanging "valentines," and the 1840s when the U.S. first mass produced valentines (not surprisingly since by the 1840s, advertising was a thing).
Where did I find all these fun facts? On this lovely (get it?) infographic from History.com:
Do I think it's ridiculous that this day is now a million-dollar holiday? Sure. Again, check out the infographic for how many ways Americans spend millions of dollars to celebrate. Yes, there are plenty of better uses for that money. But do I need to get my panties in a twist over others taking an opportunity to show each other love? No, no I do not.
#VDayHaters have plenty of reasons why they hate-not-celebrate, which are different depending if the hater is single or relationship-bound.
Single folks' reasons are pretty straightforward: they have no one with whom to celebrate, so their comments are usually a blend of bitter and indignant (i.e. "At least I'm not dropping all my money on a chick tomorrow!" or "Who needs a man?! I've got my girlfriends. Yay Galentine's!"). P.S. I'm all for Galentine's Day, for the same reasons I'm now all for Valentine's Day.
The most common reason I see couples excusing themselves from the official day of luuuurve is "because we show our love every day and won't be forced to do something on February 14 just because the calendar says so." *crosses arms and stomps foot* Fair enough, cool, you do you.
But me? I'll take it. Since becoming a parent, I really like and appreciate punctuated moments. Like Date Nights. Or Valentine's Day (or Mother's Day, or birthdays, for that matter, but I won't digress. This time). I'm happy to have a moment that forces me to stop, focus 100% of my attention on my partner and say, "I love you, baby."
When I met the Love of My Life, I transitioned from a Valentine's Day hater to an indifferent observer. I didn't resent it, but I didn't feel compelled to celebrate it because I did actively show my love every day of the year and so did he. We spent every waking and sleeping moment together (as happens when your lover is also your professional partner), and enjoyed it that way. We constantly did thoughtful things for each other and were the couple who people rolled their eyes at, muttering, "Get a room!" under their breath. We were simply, madly, in love.
We still are, but over the years, what true, mad, deep love looks like has changed drastically. Now, it can also be distracted love, stressed out love, exhausted love or yes, I love you, but I really just need some alone time love.
It's not realistic as the years go by and children enter the picture to actively show your love like you did when you were single and first falling in love. Sure, the everyday moments count, like cooking, saying "I love you" or hopping on the good foot and doing the bad thing. I wish I could get my <beep> together more days and do something truly thoughtful for my partner. But truth be told, it just doesn't happen often enough.
Which is why I'm grateful for the excuse to force myself to stop for twenty minutes and write the love note I've been meaning to write to my man for months now -- even if prompted by the pressure of an widely celebrated holiday.
As long as my thoughts are translated onto a page he can look at on a day I might be demonstrating stressed out or distracted love, and remember how I truly feel deep in my heart, that's what counts. There's something so powerful about reading words written by the hand of the one you love that feels infinitely more special than those everyday moments. To me, that's sweeter than candy.
I already had this cute card in my back pocket from last summer (whenever I see a beautiful custom letterpress or unique card that I love, I buy it -- year-round), which I got locally in Jersey City at Vivi Girl Shop on Jersey Ave. (remember them from my Mom-Time JC Adventure post?). It didn't grab it for this purpose, but it fits the bill perfectly.
So I'm off to fill it with the mushy, gushy, ooey, gooey words for my babylove that have been bumping around in my head for far too long.
But the words could be on a paper towel or on the back of an envelope (mine probably would have been if not for my love of finding cards here and there). The media doesn't matter. The point is that you don't need to buy a card or indulge in the commercialism of the day in any way to embrace an excuse to love love.
As long as this doesn't result in the day's original celebration of fertility, I'll consider it a day well-spent.