Monday, February 14, 2011

Love Letter to Valentine's Day - Because It's Not Christmas

by Laura Bickle

Yep. It's that time of year again. Valentine's Day. My inner cynic rolls its eyes, but my inner romantic digs the chocolate, the presents, and the romance. Valentine's Day is all about reliving romance with one's partner, often recalling milestones in the relationship like first dates, first kisses, proposals...

Heh. Yeah. I'm not going there. Let's stick to Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that one can love one year and loathe the next. And it's odd...though holidays inspire ardor and venom, that's usually a really consistent thing from year to year.

Take Christmas. There are people who love Christmas, who go all-out for that every year. I'm related to a lot of folks who spend weeks decorating, wear Christmas sweaters, and bake every weekend from Thanksgiving until New Year's. Folks who lovingly tape every card they receive on the mantel, fill stockings, and keep eggnog suppliers in business.

Not me. I hate Christmas. I'm the original Grinch. I hate everything about it: the family members stomping their feet, insisting that I MUST travel cross-country on icy roads, regardless of obvious hazards. Tugs of war over who does what at whose house when and what they eat. Doing the holiday over and over again at a variety of houses because everyone is stubborn and only wants THEIR turkey, THEIR way, at THEIR house. Sending presents to people with very specific and expensive wish lists who treat gift givers as personal shoppers...and who can't be bothered with thank-you notes. Overcrowded stores and malls. Lots of demands, no time to fulfill everyone's expectations.

I'm not into it. Every year I just wish I could just take a pass on the madness and have a quiet holiday at home.

Don't get me wrong. I love my family. I'd just much rather have something low-key, low-stress. Go have a cookout with burgers and brats some weekend in spring and play some whiffle ball. But the thing is...Christmas is one of those "mandatory" holidays that people have no issue with twisting your arm into celebrating they way that society/family deems you must. Everything is steeped in..."tradition." Which is code for..."Hey, I can guilt you into doing a bunch of stuff you don't really want to do...'cause this is the way it's always been done."

There are other holidays which are easier. More laid back. If you get a chance to celebrate 'em...great! Sometimes, you have a great time. Other times, not so much. But with holidays like Halloween or Valentine's can choose to have a quiet dinner at home. You can go out. You can throw a party. Give big gifts. Little gifts. Pass out candy. Send cards to folks you love. Give nothing at all. There's no "right" way to do it. There are no hard and fast traditions to screw up or annoy people with. Anything goes.

And I find that I enjoy those holidays more. Some years, I take a pass. Others...I enjoy planning a night out, or a night in. I look forward to making costumes for Halloween, choosing candy, picking out a nerdtastic Valentine's Day present for my husband.

It's simple. Uncomplicated. It gives me a warm fuzzy.

And that's why I love Valentine's Day.


  1. Three cheer for "I will celebrate my damn 'holidays' the way I want." I'm all for the night-in doing what you please as you please with whomever you please.

    Mandatory fun rarely is, ya know, fun.

  2. Yep. I think that holidays would be much better, all the way around, if we just dropped the expectations.

  3. Oh yeah. I totally agree - I don't really have any issue with celebrating any holidays at all, but the expectations (often unrealistic ones) can really be draining.

    If it's fun for you, then do it.

    If it's not, then don't.

    I dislike the family obligations around T-Day and Christmas myself - my only saving grace is that I'm such a lousy housekeeper and I don't cook at all - no one even suggests we have the holidays at my house anymore.

    Sad in some ways, but also way less stressful for me.

  4. I agree with you!
    I myself am very glad we gave up celebrating Christmas as it SHOULD be celebrated and celebrate it like we WANT to celebrate it.

    Happy Valentine's Day btw. I hope you spend it like you want to.

  5. Well, I'm Christmas-all-over-the-place, cook and bake gal, but I still believe in no onus. Fly and be free, little bird!

  6. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

    May we all have a lovely, relaxed day. :-)

  7. I *was* having a relaxed day until the cat brought me the Valentine's present of a live mouse which he promptly set free in the house. Yeah. The feline's in my lap purring and the mouse is stillambling about somewhere. Now all the bookshelves are pulled away from the walls. Does anyone ever clean behind those??

  8. LMAO. A very appropriately feline Valentine!

  9. Now see - I don't care that much for Valentine's day, because although you may have escaped the onus, Laura, so many have not. How many teenage girls cried their hearts out last night because they didn't get something from 'that' boy? How many married couples had fights about it? And meanwhile the card companies rake in the profits as people buy "heartfelt expressions."

    I totally agree with dropping expectations: for all holidays. All the time.

  10. Good point, Kerry. Those are situations when people have expectations of other people: spouses, 'that' boy. Anytime we start expecting people to behave in a certain way, disappointment abounds. And sullenness, resentment, and passive-aggressiveness can follow closely behind.

    True, I guess I never felt much pressure to celebrate Valentine's Day. The vast majority of my Valentine's Days were when I was single or unattached, so I eventually developed an internal shrug mechanism where it was concerned. No expectations, so any candy that happens to make an appearance is a pleasant surprise.

    And I guess that's what I'm trying to say in a roundabout fashion...expectations, both our own internal ones AND external ones that are imposed on us, need to be reduced in order to have a decent holiday of any kind.

    Boycotting those damn commercials in which the only way a man can prove his love to a woman is with a diamond would be a good start. I've been seeing those damn things nonstop since Christmas. :-S