You don’t have to suffer on Valentine’s Day.
Trust me on this.
Expectation, it’s said, is the source of all suffering, and greeting card manufacturers, chocolatiers, jewelers, and florists would all have you believe that you are unloved – and possibly even unlovable – if you don’t receive one, some or all of the above on Valentine’s Day.
What’s peculiar is that the marketing is mostly directed at women, but it’s mostly the men who are expected to buy and present the stuff. As far as I can tell, this just encourages women to be passive-aggressive, men to be resentful, and the dysfunction between women and men to thrive. Who needs that?
I say, if you are a person of any gender and you want flowers or chocolates or diamonds, buy them!
But if you want to be unhappy, go ahead and drop hints, attempt mental telepathy, or just sit and hope that your special someone will present you with the prescribed and predictable heart-shaped box of chocolates or bouquet of roses that’s supposed to be a demonstration of love. But don’t be surprised that when the chocolates are eaten and the roses have wilted, the brief satisfaction of having received them fades as well.
SINGLE IN NEW YORK
When I was single and – I thought – undesirable, I’d crawl into a dark place on February fourteenth while everyone else in the world, it seemed, was celebrating romantic love. Poor me.
Then one year, I’d had enough. On February fifteenth, I bought myself a heart shaped box of chocolates on sale. They weren’t really that good. So I tried flowers. Not roses, but spider chrysanthemums. I liked them so much I started buying fresh flowers as often as I could afford them.
IN LOVE IN VERMONT
Tim and I met one August and fell in love, hard. Six months later, on that first Valentine’s Day, I found myself slipping into the slough of expectation, so I turned it around and bought him a gift, which made me feel better. (For the record, it was shaving soap and brush, not flowers or chocolate.)
I don’t think Tim’s ever given me a Valentine’s Day gift, though he’s given me countless extraordinary presents on ordinary days of the year. Why not take a cue from Humpty-Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland, who promotes the giving of un-birthday gifts on the three hundred and sixty-four days of the year it’s not your birthday? Why not Valentine’s Day as well?
If you have special plans for love today – that’s great; and if you live a loving life all the rest of the year, even better.