My, there’s a lot of hate out there for Valentine’s Day.
“It’s a manufactured holiday,” people say, “It’s all about guilt and pressure to buy stuff you don’t need.”
And they’re right. But I look at it a different way.
Primarily, I look at it as a holiday that revolves around two of my favorite things: love and candy. There’s no pressure to invite 20 family members over and prepare a big meal, there’s no real expectation of church-going or really anywhere-else-going, for that matter. Low pressure gets high praise from me.
Of course, I’m an old married lady, so it’s easy for me to keep the pressure low. When you’re dating, I suppose, there’s pressure to plan the perfect date and get the perfect gift — substantial and meaningful (gift cards won’t cut it here), but not so expensive or fancy as to make things awkward. You’ve got to pick the right restaurant and possibly sell your soul to get a reservation, and do NOT forget the flowers!
But in my house, Valentine’s Day is low-key, and that low-key-ness is why I love it. My husband and I already have more stuff than we know what to do with, so several years ago we decided to knock it off with the gift-giving. Instead, we go out to dinner (or get takeout) — either on Valentine’s Day or on a makeup day we find more suitable — and agree not to feel guilty about it, which is really the perfect gift. We both love to skip the cooking and cleaning in order to let someone else cook, but we hate to spend the money, so we really try to cook for ourselves as much as possible. But for Valentine’s Day, we go out and, for once, don’t sour the meal with guilt about money or those perfectly good chicken breasts in the freezer we could have had. We splurge a bit on some Valentine’s Day candy to keep around the house, and we make an extra effort to say nice things to each other, and that’s pretty much the deal. No stress there!
Now that there’s a kid in the picture, the involvement of stuff has crept back in a little, but it’s not too bad. We give her some little gifts, like candy and maybe a coloring book or something. But the main focus of the holiday is in the days just before it, when we spend time together making valentines for her friends and classmates and — of course! — the grandparents. We talk about the importance of telling the people we love that we love them, and we try hard to practice what we preach in that regard.
So sure, Valentine’s Day can be obnoxious if you let it be (just like any other holiday if you go over the top — looking at you, Elf-on-the-Shelf people), but stop for a minute and realize it doesn’t have to be that way at all. It can be what you make of it, as long as you keep your eyes on what’s important: Love. And candy.