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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Nay


By Erin Knightley
I have a confession to make.
It’s kinda embarrassing, what with me being a romance writer and all. And a romance reader. And sappy-movie lover. And a part time worker in a jewelry store where love seems to always be in the air.
Okay. Here it is. *breathes deeply*
I hate Valentine’s Day.
*Cringes, waiting for startled gasps and accusing stares*  I know, I know, it doesn’t seem to make sense. Why would a lover of all things having to do with love feel so strongly in the negative about a day devoted to love?
Honestly, I think it started in middle school, when people could buy carnations to be handed out to their sweethearts throughout the day. Every time the door opened in class, and the designated delivery person would prance in and hand out flowers to a handful of ‘lucky’ recipients, I would look on anxiously, dreading people getting their feelings hurt when they were left empty handed. 
On the years that I received a flower, I was almost always embarrassed. On the years that I didn’t, I was left with an odd feeling of shame, as if I somehow wasn’t good enough or no one liked me.  No matter what, it was a no win situation, and I wanted nothing more than for the day to go away, and for people to be free to express their like or love in their own time, in their own way.
The problem, I suppose, is that it is just feels so manufactured. Walk into any store and you will see a proliferation of red and pink boxes, stuffed animals, cards, fake roses, lingerie, plastic hearts, goofy ties, cheap trinkets, and just about anything else that would hold the red dye.
Is there anything wrong with giving each other these little baubles? Certainly not, especially if it makes people happy.
But for me, it rankles that this is the day that someone else decided I must show or be shown love.  It goes against the way I like to think of love: something that is a constant presence in life. I want my loved ones to show love when they decide, not when it is decreed that they do so. I must be the only woman on earth who forbids her husband to get her anything on Valentine's day! I much prefer he surprise me on a random Tuesday, just because he was thinking of me.
I guess that’s one of the reasons I love romance novels so much. The love is there, everyday, available to anyone and everyone that wishes to enjoy it. If you are already in love, it reminds you of how great a thing it is, not to be taken for granted. If you are still waiting for the right person to come along, it fills the heart in more ways than one—allowing you to experience the characters’ love right along with them, and indulging one’s sense of optimism for when the day comes that love does find you.
So there you have it. My shocking secret, outed for all the world to see and judge. So what do you think – am I a certified old fuddy-duddy? Who out there loves V-day, and who is happy to let the day slide by unnoticed?
(Though I will admit, I do love shopping the clearance racks for chocolate and candy the day after. What? It’s not Valentine’s Day goodies anymore—it’s just cheap red and pink candy! ;-) )

27 comments:

  1. LOL Erin! You know I don't think the only one who hates valentines. Honestly, it's just a marketing scam to mark up stuff because its cover in pink and red with hearts on it. Oh gosh, you let my inner cynic out. Now I need to put her way ;)

    I like yo get a box of good chocolate and a gift card for amazon or iTunes. I'm not going to lie I like gifts on valentines, but they don't have to be cover in hearts and flowers.

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    1. I must admit - I don't think I'd turn down chocolate or flowers if they were handed to me ;) Glad I'm not the only one with the inner cynic!

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  2. Erin,
    I feel exactly the same way. I hate how the day can make people feel lonely and unloved. Plus, as you said, it doesn't feel genuine to me.

    One thing that really turned me off to Valentine's Day was a former co-worker. He was talking about what he was getting his wife, but it was clear he was only doing it because it was expected. And his attitude was like if he did something great for Valentine's Day, that would carry him through the rest of the year. Of course, every other day he talked bad about his wife. Blech!

    Love doesn't happen one day out of the year. I agree that it's constant, even on the days you aren't feeling especially lovey dovey.

    But... My little girl loves Valentine's Day. I took her to Michael's Sunday to pick out decorations for her Valentine box at school, and her daddy picked up Valentines for her to give out. My mom sent her a stuffed animal yesterday, and it was so cute watching her excitement when she opened the package. And then of course, she had to sleep with her newest stuffed animal and I had to tuck him in, too. She brings joy to any holiday.

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    1. I do think it is fun for kids, especially when Mommy or Daddy makes them their Valentine :) And, I do have fun sending cards to my family. I just hate seeing men come into the store with the, "ugh - gotta get the old ball and chain a token V-day gift" attitude. Or like you said, making some people feel lonely.
      But YAY for everyday romance!

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  3. I have always disliked Valentine's Day. For me it seems to be the loneliest day of the year. It's a fairly painful day of the year for me as it was a due date that never came. In my life I've had one perfect Valentine's day and it's the one I hold dear, otherwise the rest are just regular days for me. That being said I know it's a fun day for little ones, so I do for the kids. Oh and I love the old fashioned flavor conversation hearts lol (not sweetarts). It lands on a perfect day this year for me as it's right after Ash Wednesday and I'm giving up up sweets for it.

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    1. Oh, I hate that its a sad day for you, Misty :( But I'm glad you have your one lovely memory :) And I'm with you - I do love those hearts, especially since they aren't too, too sweet.

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  4. My husband and I have decided to not get one another anything for Valentines. Starting with Halloween, we've been in "celebration mode" around here non-stop. We're so tired of celebrating. I'm going to make a special dinner for the family and call it good. Love should be every day, because one wants to, not because retailers have taken a saint and decided to monetize the day.

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    1. YES! Love is such a wonderful thing to celebrate every day, and nothing is better than a bouquet on a the counter you didn't expect, for no other reason than because he was thinking about you. And in general, I must say that the whole holiday thing seems to be getting out of hand. You are so right about being in celebration mode for months!

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  5. Me, too! But I take it even further. I hate all holidays! I just enjoy the days off, that's all.

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    1. LOL - days off are the best kind of holidays!

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  6. Preach it, sister! I could never figure out exactly why I hated the "holiday" but I think you nailed it: it's manufactured. Why do we need a special day to tell people we love them? The best part of love, to me, is the surprise. Expectation ruins so much, in my opinion.

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    1. Amen to the surprise part :) I one threatened my hubby, then boyfriend, that he had BETTER not propose to me on a holiday. He did good - he chose a random Thursday and ambushed me!

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  7. Thank you for being so honest and you will probably be amazed at how many women agree with you. I don't want my husband to feel like "Oh, God, it's Valentine's Day so I've got to get something for her." That's insane. So, I essentially let him off the hook many years ago. What we do now (and we love it) is to make a homemade card for one another. It can be funny or risque or whatever. It's our true feelings that we put into it and that's the best part. We get such a kick out of what the other one comes up with. Quite frankly, at this time of year women are dieting like crazy to get over the Christmas holiday indulgences so they can fit into a bathing suit in a few months. They really don't want or need the sweets. It's yet another occasion that the retailers have shoved down the throats of people to make money. Just let your loved one know you love them any time or any day of the year. It means much more that way.

    Good for you, Erin!!

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    1. Love, love, love the homemade card idea. So sweet! And speaking of sweets...how did you know I was dieting?! LOL
      So glad to see I haven't offended people, and that I'm not the only one!

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  8. I don't love or hate Valentines Day and if it disappeared I don't think I would care (possibly not even notice except Easter decorations would appear in February). My husband always gets me a card and chocolates and I get him fresh roasted nuts. It is just our thing and it is because it is Valentines Day - here is your treat - type of thing - lol. I can't remember the last time he sent me flowers on Valentines Day, but that is okay because I come home to them out of the blue and for no special occasion throughout the year. I would rather have the surprise because he felt moved to get me flowers than a bouquet delivered because it is Valentines Day and not get them again until a year later.

    My husband has continued the tradition I grew up with. My father always got his children a small box of chocolates (mom had nothing to do with it). I always felt so special when my dad handed me that heart shape box (more so than any guy when I was older). My husband did the same for our children and my kids (especially the daughters) faces used to light up. Those are the memories I cherish about Valentines Day.

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    1. Hahaha - that is the first great argument for valentines day that I've heard. Yes, We'd be seeing Easter stuff in January otherwise!
      I think that it is lovely that you have such great memories to cherish :)

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  9. Thank you so much for your candid post. I don't feel like such a Valentine "humbug" now. I really hate how Valentine's Day is so forced and contrived. My husband and I really don't do Valentine's Day things for one another, but we do get treats for the children. I really hate it when people only "love" you one day of the year, yet treat you poorly the rest of the year. I prefer showing love as well as other feelings on a daily basis. My husband doesn't need to buy me jewelry I don't want or need. He shows it to me by doing things like fixing my flat tire at night in the rain (just last night!)

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    1. Aw - what a guy :) I think a fixed flat trumps a cheesy pink and red heart bauble any day of the week!

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  10. A few years ago, some girlfriends and I celebrated "Singleton's Day" together. It made the day a little less lonely. :)

    This hasn't really been a day I've looked forward to since I was a little girl, and frankly as an adult, it seems like an over-commercialized day to make people feel bad about themselves. No thanks.

    I tend to ignore it, honestly.

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    1. LOL - Singleton's Day. I like it! I think ignoring it is a good way to go :)

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  11. My husband, the most loving and devoted man anyone could wish for, hates valentine's day. (Also father's day.)

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    1. Sounds like your hubby has the everyday loving thing down pat :)

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    2. He does indeed. :-) And he does generally do a little treat or something for me on Valentine's day. (And Vice versa -- this year I'm going to make him and son a small heart shaped cake.) It's the massive cultural expectations, especially on men, that he finds offensive.

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  12. Oh God, the dreaded carnation...I think that's why I always hated middle school...that's where I was first introduced to the tradition. As for adult me, I'm not a huge fan of V-Day either. In large part because I think when you love someone, you celebrate that love in small, meaningful ways throughout the year. Valentine's Day commercializes love.

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    1. Whose idea was that carnation thing, anyway?? We've all been traumatized ;)

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  13. I have always loved Valentine's Day. Maybe it's because our parents made it so special -- what dad writes his kids poems and gives them each a rose special picked just for us? And then mom made a gourmet dinner for which we used actual china plates! It was magical. So much so that it was hard for any guy later in life to live up to - "Where's my poem and hand picked rose?" Valentine's Day is like Christmas to me - at the heart of it is a deeply sacred thing, a reminder that love is not always easy, that it is a gift and should be celebrated -- yes, everyday -- but in a way, so should any real holiday. We should celebrate them in our hearts, but a day to celebrate in the world in a tangible way is kind of nice too. I think of all of those couples that St. Valentine risked his life to marry because it was illegal for them and it reminds me that it has only been very very recently that we humans have been lucky enough to choose who we marry! And in a twist of irony, I, the ultimate Valentine's Day lover, married a V day hater! But it's okay -- I still make him special dinners, and he doesn't complain:)

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    1. Hehe - I knew without a shred of doubt that you would be pro-Valentine's :) Yes, childhood memories of roses on our pillows and dinner on china are great, and well cherished. It was the awkwardness of the 'romance' part of it that turned me off. I still do send happy, cute cards to family members for fun :)

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