Valentine’s Day is a notoriously loaded holiday, designed to make the happy miserable and the lonely lonelier. Right?
Not so fast.
While the innocent joy of those chalky conversation hearts and silver-wrapped sticks of Big Red gum inside Snoopy Valentines may be a thing of your past, the good news is there are still some positives to this potentially heart-breaking holiday. For one thing, heart-shaped boxes of chocolate go on sale on February 15th. Until then, here are some suggestions to actually enjoy the 14th the way it was intended.
Make Your Own Time Machine
It’s easy. Go to the place where you first met, no matter where it is, or what it is now, and do something to turn back time. I met a woman a few weeks ago who told me she and her husband were just about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. When she told me she’d met him at a bar just down the street thirty-two years earlier I instantly started planning their evening in my mind. Okay, not so much in my mind as out loud:
“You have to go back there! I don’t care how long it’s been or if you know anyone there! You have to go there, sit in the booth where you met, tell everyone it’s your anniversary!”
She informed me that the bar was gone and had become a Blockbuster Video. Did she think that was going to shut me up?
“Even better! Go in there and rent the first movie you ever saw together!” To which I added, “Tell everyone it’s your anniversary!”
Then she informed me that the Blockbuster had gone out of business a year ago and now it was an abandoned building.
That threw me, but only momentarily. A time machine is a time machine. Things change, places change. That’s what makes a relationship that lasts thirty years so very special. The relationship becomes home, as opposed to the surrounding elements. In fact, even if it were still the bar where they had met, it would probably not feel much more familiar than it would were they to have a picnic in their car in the parking lot of the abandoned building.
Which is what I ultimately suggested she do.
For relationships that haven’t yet reached that solid 30 year mark, you may have to give in a little more to the lacy edges and red cut-out hearts of Valentine’s Day to get the vibe.
Paris is lovely this time of year!
Different countries have different ways of celebrating this holiday. Have you and your partner fantasized about an epic vacation to France, Spain or India? Research the traditions of the country and pretend you’re there.
My friend Cory is a major Japan buff. His latest girlfriend, who has since completely won me over, noticed that his world travels had waned significantly since he had started dating her. Maybe she couldn’t go to Japan with him, but she managed to bring a little taste of it to him last Valentine’s Day.
I don’t know how long she spent making those paper cranes, but she had a chain of them made from scraps of paper that pertained to their relationship draped across the living room when he got home from work. Everything from their phone bill to a program from a play they’d seen months earlier had been fashioned into a paper crane.
The internet helped her figure out how to make some simple sushi and what Cory later described as the ‘best sukiyaki’ he’d ever had.
They ate on the floor, shoes off, by candlelight. I’m pretty sure they didn’t get to the copy of Shall We Dance (the original Japanese version) she’d rented on Netflix.
What songs were popular they year your sweetheart was born? Hop on iTunes and start downloading. Make a mix CD. Better yet, do the math and figure out what songs were popular when he or she was conceived! What is your partner’s favorite movie? Buy it and stay in for the night with some homemade favorites. My husband is from Iowa, and he knows his comfort food. He grills me a rare steak (rare as in I never let myself eat it—I actually take mine well done), or he’ll make a Crock-Pot full of forbidden homemade chicken and dumplings on Valentine’s Day. Get creative when you get personal. What is the flower that corresponds to your partner’s birth month? Google it and head to a florist.
Basically do things a stalker would do, but since it’s you, it’s touching, not scary. It shows you’ve been paying attention. Which proves you are interested and that you are a keeper.
Still not sold on Valentine’s Day?
Bonus fourth suggestion:
Of course, this is an ironic suggestion. You’ll still be doing something—otherwise what fun would that be?
A little internet research on Valentine’s Day traditions reveals how the original celebration of the original St. Valentine’s Day, with its simple handwritten love notes and single red roses, has become commercially engineered. Valentine cards are mass-produced and one would be hard-pressed to find any that don’t feature some version of a heavily licensed cartoon character. Magazine ads send women to the nearest Victoria’s Secret for matching underwear ‘just in case.’ Jewelers air commercials that strike fear into the heart of every even minimally attached guy. If you and your partner like to stick it to the man, if you live to thumb your noses at convention, then forego the fancy evening out at the crowded restaurant that was written up in New York Times magazine last week. Go against the grain. Why not wear all black and head to your favorite guilty pleasure fast food joint and order a bargain Pu Pu platter? As in everything on the value menu? Maybe laze around in your pajamas drinking beer instead of champagne, eating microwave popcorn and watching excruciatingly un-romantic movies. An Oliver Stone marathon, perhaps?
Either way, you know you’re going to end up making out. Whether it be on the couch in your pajamas or in the rain after an unforgettable evening out, love wins.
And isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is all about?