On Valentine’s Day my Facebook news feed was full of picture posts from proud wives, showing off the loot they received from their thoughtful and attentive husbands. But you can’t call it Valentine’s without the less sentimental statuses: “Glad my husband loves me every other day of the year,” “Why do I need presents today? It’s not like it’s a REAL holiday!” or “Happy Hallmark and Russell Stover Bailout Day.”
I loved this tweet from Stephen Colbert that summed up the V-Day “controversy”:
I have to admit, I don’t really get the Valentine’s Day hating. What’s not to love about a day of presents and diet-busting on an otherwise dreary day in the holidayless wasteland that is the first quarter of the year?
I understand that no one loves a coerced giver. I understand that husbands should be loving to their wives for the other 364 days of the year as well. I understand that florists inflate the price of flowers in the second week of February.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you’re such an unfeeling brick of a husband that you only attempt a romantic gesture once a year, that bouquet of flowers is not really going to make much of a difference. But if you’re in a normal, affirming relationship, going out of your way NOT to be thoughtful and romantic for one day of the year seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
And here’s a hint for the cheerful-yet-frugal giver: think outside the heart-shaped box for a gift that has not been price gouged. Last year Stephen gave me a gift certificate for a nice haircut, an indulgence I wanted but would never have gotten myself.* This year I gave him a book called A Chicken in Every Yard. Not everyone was raiding the stock of books on urban chicken farming, so the book’s price on February 10 was the same as it was every other day of the year. Traditionally romantic? Maybe not. Thoughful? Yes.
And that’s the real point. There are plenty of days to eat sensible breakfasts and buy each other things that we need (a gallon of milk, new undershirts, toothpaste, etc.). Plenty of days to show love for each other by washing the dishes and picking up your own towel from the bathroom floor. Plenty of days, even, for completely spontaneous thoughtful gestures and gifts. But a special day for presents all around? I’ll borrow the “Kinky for Governor” campaign slogan from a few years back to answer that one.**
*Stephen gave me a gift this year, too, in case you wondered. But it was a basket of several small things, and would have taken longer to explain.
** Kinky’s memorable slogan was “Why the hell not?” in case you don’t follow Texas state politcs.
***Just because Abby is not mentioned in this post doesn’t mean we neglected her on Valentine’s Day. But showers of gifts and sweets are pretty much par for the course in her charmed life, so it’s hardly worth talking about.