Valentine’s Day   3 comments

rose2Roses are red, / Violets are blue… / As a matter of fact I’m not expecting flowers on Valentine’s Day. / Thanks so much for asking.

It’s that time of year again. February 14th, the Feast of Saint Valentine, Valentine’s Day, Dress All in Black Day… Whatever you call it, in my mind the holiday primarily exists for two purposes:

  • to make as much money as possible for the greeting card, chocolate, jewelry, and florist industries. (Don’t get me wrong; I love all these things, especially flowers – and chocolate, but $75 for a dozen roses? Really?!? That’s just wrong.
  • to remind single – or perhaps I should use the trendier ‘uncoupled’ – people they are just that. Single. Unattached. Alone. (Because we were completely unaware of it before. Duh.)

Now, you probably can guess from the above I’m not really a fan of the holiday.

And… You would be right. Even when I was part of a couple, I disliked it intensely, but I’ll get to that later.

When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day wasn’t quite so bad. I have in the past been on record as stating the recent trend of giving out ‘participation’ awards simply for showing up at events – don’t get me started on kindergarten graduations – annoys me to no end. But schools have a rule that makes the holiday bearable. Kids are required to hand out cards to everyone in class. This meant no one is left out.

Did you give the nicer valentines from the pack to your friends or your crush? Of course. Everyone did that. (Don’t tell me you didn’t; I know it’s not true.)

But, everyone – from the best-looking, most popular boy in class, to the girl who sits alone at recess and whose hobby is making necklaces from folded up gum wrappers to the class bully – gets a card. Everyone. And cookies. (Or at least they did when I was in school, because, really, what’s a holiday without cookies?) Inclusiveness is the word of the day.

And it was back then, too, even if it wasn’t yet a ‘thing.’ No one got left out.

Once people started pairing off in middle and high school, the gulf between the single and coupled – or to-be-coupled – grew from a crack in the floor to a chasm. My school, as did many others I imagine, sold red, pink, and white carnations as a fundraiser for… Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I have no idea what they were raising money for. Oh, well. That’s not the point, anyway.

The point is the carnations themselves – white for ‘I’m interested,’ pink for ‘I like you,’ and red for ‘I love you.’ Flowers would be ordered a few weeks before so by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, everyone was in a frenzy of anticipation to see who got them, how many they got, and what color(s) they were. Or everyone but me and few other of us who knew we would not be getting flowers. For us, the feeling was closer to “Oh, no. Not again…” To make it even more special, deliveries were carried out by members of student government during homeroom. So everyone knew who got flowers, and, by default, who didn’t.

For those of us who were insecure about our looks, our personalities, or how much we appealed to others, nothing let us know more clearly how we were perceived by our peers than watching other people walking around with bunches of flowers in their hands while ours were empty. If your self-esteem was low to start with, February 14th was likely to send it spiraling down to sub-basement levels. To add insult to injury? There were no cookies. Which was so not fair.

Things didn’t improve much once I did meet someone. My ex-husband worked in agriculture, so round about the time Valentine’s Day appeared on the horizon – the middle of winter here in New England – his paychecks would shrivel up to about nothing. If things aren’t growing (because it’s really, $%#$ cold outside) extension agents have nothing to study, and correspondingly have no reason to send their low-paid minions part-time employees out to gather samples. Hence no cash flow.

So, just about the time the ads for jewelry, flowers, candlelight dinners, and teddy bears (I haven’t figured that one out yet; they remind me of people filling nurseries) started appearing in the papers, I would be figuring out which bills I could put on hold, so I could do fun things like buy groceries or pay the rent.

Given the situation, it shouldn’t have been surprising that my ex and I would have our one big, knock-down, drag-out fight of each year right around mid-February. (Other than the one we would have after Thanksgiving about Christmas trees, but that came later in the relationship. And is a different blog post.) About money, of course.

What was surprising was that it took me years – YEARS – to figure this out these events were linked.

And, not only that, but apparently, underneath all my purported disdain for the holiday, I wanted a full-blown Valentine’s Day experience. I wanted the jewelry, the flowers, the candlelight dinners, the chocolate. Maybe not the teddy bears, though. I mean, they’re cute and fuzzy and all, but they don’t scream to me of romance. (BTW, the first person who mentions the Fifty Shades bear gets banned from the blog. I mean it.) The realization was both painful and embarrassing, given my vocal natterings over the years.

On the up side, once I realized this, the longing for the trappings of the holiday subsided somewhat, leaving just the vague desire for romance when February rolled around.

Then the boom fell, and, well, here I am again, watching a holiday come around that doesn’t want me participating.

I’ve bought a card for my son because I know there are different kinds of love that can be celebrated on Valentine’s Day, but I don’t necessarily expect he’ll have one for me. Which is all right. I know he loves me. And I guess that’s really what I want from the holiday. To know someone loves me.

Would I like it to be in the romance type of way? I’m not going to lie. Yes, I would. But I think I need to learn to be happy with what I have. I think it’s the expectation of the holiday that has ruined it for me over the years.

I’ll let you know how that works out.

In the meantime, I have to go dig out my black pants and sweater and make sure they’re clean.  And maybe bake some cookies.

Hey, it’s what gets me through…

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Posted February 9, 2015 by wordsaremylife in holidays, random thoughts

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3 responses to “Valentine’s Day

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  1. Pingback: We Wish You a… Oh, Never Mind | Tales of a Marathon Widow

  2. Those damned carnations. I was just telling Lon about them. They sucked so much. Never got one, not even when I had a boyfriend. Never. Hugs, sweetheart.

    • I got 3 one year from Michael. After I had broken up with him. It wasn’t everything I was hoping and wishing. Mostly it was just embarrassing, I think, because no one had ever expected me to get any, so I ended up fielding questions all day long. It wasn’t fun.

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