It seems everyone is trying his or her hardest to make sure I know that Valentine’s Day is approaching. When I go grocery shopping, I’m bombarded with beautiful flowers and tempting candies and baked goods, and the card aisles are a mass of red. My newspaper comes with adverts from local restaurants advertising Valentine’s Day dinner specials. Even my email is being cluttered with messages about what I need to buy the love of my life.
The trouble is there is no love of my life right now and even when there was, it all seemed so contrived and expected.
Boulder resident Barbara Wilder agrees. “It’s such a made up holiday. When you’re married or have a relationship it’s like you have to do it. If he’s not doing something wonderful for you then you feel like you’re not loved enough because everyone on the television is doing it the right the way.”
When she was married she tried to keep it simple decorating the house with red hearts and making a nice dinner. However that didn’t live up to the hype.
“Somehow it always seemed to fizzle out,” said Barbara. “We never had great sex on Valentine’s Day and there’s this expectation that you’re supposed to.”
Alyce Barry in Longmont also found it disappointing. “My husband, even if it occurred to him to buy flowers, which it usually didn’t, his idea of buying flowers was something like white chrysanthemums and what I wanted was something colorful and really fragrant, like daffodils, roses and carnations. So, every year for years I bought myself flowers on Valentine’s Day.”
Alyce is divorced now and says she doesn’t need the flowers anymore but a gift would still be fun. “I think the best gift for me on Valentine’s Day would be a really good conversation with someone I’m close to. That kind of connection means so much more to me than any kind of gift or flowers or candy – there’s just no comparison.”
So what to do about these occasions when there’s so much pressure to celebrate? Melanie Mulhall, writer, shaman and blogger at Living the Dream, says these days can be especially difficult for newly-single people but she advises against ignoring your emotions. “The worst thing to do is to just do something to avoid your feelings. I don’t think that’s good because sooner or later you’re going to have to confront them.” If the idea of spending Valentine’s Day on your own is bothering you, then Melanie suggests spending it with friends but don’t spend it whining!
With no romantic partner in my life, I would be content to let the day slip quietly by. However, I don’t think my children are going to let me get away with that. (Another sneaky marketing ploy by the card and candy manufacturers). My two are in middle school and high school so thankfully, we won’t be writing Batman or Hannah Montana Valentines to the entire class list but I did say after Christmas I wanted them to take more responsibility for celebrating occasions and my son is definitely planning something. They’re going to be with their Dad this weekend so I’m not sure what to expect but if he’s planning something then I’d better be prepared too.
So I’ve decided to surprise them when they come home Sunday evening, with a dessert for dinner night – English pancakes – it’s one of their favorites and it’s ages since we’ve had them. I even have some Lyle’s Golden Syrup – an essential accompaniment to the pancakes.
We’ll be celebrating our love for each other and significantly for me, it will be a year since we moved into our “post-marriage” home. How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Love it? Hate it? Ignore it?