by Kate Richlin-Zack
Truth be told, I love Valentine’s Day. I shouldn’t considering the crappy ones I’ve had in the past. But I do.
The problem with admitting it’s one of my favorite holidays is I’m in the minority and more importantly, no one gives a crap. Sadly, most people are pretty jaded when it comes to Valentine’s Day. But it wasn’t always that way. If you think about it, there was a time when Valentine’s Day was fun and it was exactly what you wanted it to be. Granted, it was in elementary school but you have to admit you enjoyed it.
We dug up an old shoe box, wrapped it in red construction paper, and adorned it with heart shaped doilies and stickers. Lots of stickers. I remember my mom helping me cut a slit in the top – apparently my father couldn’t be trusted with an Xacto knife and let’s just say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The week leading up to Valentine’s Day, we’d all secretly put our Charlie Brown or My Little Pony themed cards into everyone’s boxes. And you had to make a Valentine for everyone, even the smelly kid because that was just the right thing to do.
Can we just go back to that? Forget the elaborate heart shaped boxes of chocolate, the long stemmed roses, and the barrage of jewelry commercials. Not everyone is getting engaged, Neil Lane! And seriously, what’s the deal with Cupid? Who let’s a little kid run around half naked wielding a bow and arrow? Is someone calling child services?
The problem with Valentine’s Day is there’s entirely too much goddamned pressure for no good goddamned reason. You’re almost guaranteed an awful experience. But fear not, there are ways around it.
First things first, lower your expectations. I’m not saying give up hope entirely. I’m just suggesting you reconsider your definition of “normal.”
If you’re in a relationship, don’t expect February 14th to play out like a rom-com. If you’re boyfriend isn’t the type to surprise you by cooking an elaborate dinner on a random Tuesday night and doesn’t send flowers unless it’s accompanied by an apology for something he did wrong, he’s not going to magically turn into John Cusak in Say Anything. Welcome to reality. It sucks just as much for everyone else as it does for you. Most guys get resentful around Valentine’s Day because it’s forced. There’s just too much pressure and for the record, he should be declaring his undying love for you in various ways throughout year, not just Feb 14th. Sorry, ladies, but it’s much more meaningful and memorable when Hallmark isn’t telling him what to say and when to say it.
If you’re not in a relationship, don’t be all bitter and angry that you have no one with whom to share this bullshit holiday. Couples are not blissfully meandering the streets hand in hand stealing kisses beneath the moonlight. They’re either elbow-to-elbow with the couple next to them in an overcrowded restaurant with lackluster food and substandard service or they’re on the couch watching Seinfeld on TBS because it’s been a long day and… Oh wait, it’s Valentine’s Day? …
And if you’re in that nebulous, not-really-sure-what-we-are-yet stage because you’ve only been on a few dates with the Brooklyn architect you met online, just be cool. In fact, I would intentionally make other plans. Or at least tell him you made other plans but don’t get too specific. If you’re not at the point where you can legitimately call him your boyfriend, you’re also not at the point where you can admit those “plans” involve a Whitman’s Sampler and a box of Franzia. Maintain that aura of mystery for a little while longer.
Once your expectations are in check, you can feel free to just enjoy the evening. Head out to the local bowling alley with your guy friends; loser pays for the cheese fries and anti-fungal shoes. Invite all your girlfriends over for lively evening of bourbon and Twister. Watch The Notebook with your boyfriend but keep it interesting by having a shot of tequila every time someone says the world “love – just drink responsibly. You don’t want to end up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning. Memorable? Yes. But probably not the romantic evening you envisioned.
You also have the option to do absolutely nothing and treat Feb 14th like any other Thursday. Come home from work, heat up your Lean Cuisine, and enjoy the latest episode of Scandal. Sounds like perfection to me!
Basically, the day is what you make of it. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to reconnect with the people you love and for the record, your relationship status is irrelevant. Call your mom. Text your sister. Hug your husband. Remind your best friend about the good ol’ days when you rode bikes to school and your biggest worry was getting home before the streetlights went on. I’d even go so far as to suggest reprising the construction paper covered shoebox at work but I fear the conversation hearts could have you fully embroiled in a sexual harassment lawsuit before St Patrick’s Day and we simply can’t have that.
Bottom line, just relax and enjoy it. And remember the chocolate is usually half price by 8pm. Win!
Kate’s Dates runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Her articles have been featured on xoJane, YourTango, and Romance Never Dies. She’s been quoted in Fox News Magazine and featured on Huffington Post Live. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.