How I Learned to Love Valentine's Dayby Risa Green
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I have to say, my feelings about Valentine’s Day are beginning to change.
I used to be one of those super anti-Valentine’s Day people. Like, when people would ask me what my husband and I were doing for Valentine’s Day, I’d scoff and be like, uh, nothing, because it’s stupid. And it is stupid, actually, on a lot of levels.
For one thing, it’s stupid that people buy roses on Valentine’s Day that cost double what they normally do. And it’s equally stupid that people go to restaurants with fixed price menus, because not only are they going to spend more than they normally would for the same food, they also don’t even get to choose what they’re going to eat.
Second, it’s stupid that kids have to give out valentines to everyone in their class on Valentine’s Day. Why should a kid have to give a card that says "You’re Cool, Valentine" to a kid who’s mean to him and makes him cry on a daily basis? And really, isn’t it just a little inappropriate for seven or eight year-old boys to be giving girls cards that say Be Mine?
Although, I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s not like any of them even look at the pile of mass-produced, Disney-licensed valentines they receive from their classmates, or ever use the stickers/tattoos/unsharpened pencils that come with them. All they really care about is the candy, which, by the way, is also stupid. I mean, I get that in the Middle Ages, it meant something to receive a confection from one’s suitor. But is there anything meaningful about getting copious amounts of conversation hearts and Hershey kisses that were bought by someone’s mom on her last trip to Target? But like I said, I’m not a Valentine’s Day hater anymore.
The thing is, I used to think that Valentine’s Day was unnecessary; a holiday made up by retailers looking to take advantage of us suckers - I mean, consumers. I used to think that if you needed a special day to tell the people you love that you love them, then something was seriously wrong with your relationships. And on some level, I still think that that’s true. I mean, I tell my kids I love them a thousand times a day. I tell my husband I love him every time I talk to him (well, unless he’s really fucked something up).
But we all live such crazy, over-scheduled lives, where families don’t eat dinner together and parents are working late and kids have hours of homework every night, and the weekends are filled with games and practices and birthday parties, and nobody ever has time to just take a breath.
And so I think I’ve figured out that that’s what Valentine’s Day is about. It’s about taking a breath, and going out of your way to do something nice for the people you love. It doesn’t have to be commercial, with fancy restaurants, expensive roses, or pointless, heart-shaped plush toys. I’d so much rather my husband cook me dinner, or pick me some flowers from the backyard - anything that shows me he spent a few moments thinking about what would make me happy during his otherwise crazy day.
I honestly never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day this year. I’m looking forward to doing some nice things for my family, and to taking lots of little breaths.