Last week, while on a break at work, a friend asked me what seems to be the most pressing question of the month: “So, how are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day?” Her hushed, secretive voice, suggested she expected me to come up with something naughty, illegal even.
In the past, this issue would have been a no-brainer. Nowadays, when my husband and I are close to celebrating four years of marriage and a total of nine being in a romantic relationship, it prompts me to search deeper for answers. All too often, when facing the same query, people end up taking sides.
Usually, older couples think something along the lines of “It’s just another Hallmark holiday”, while new sweethearts can’t seem to get enough of the “roses and chocolate covered strawberries” trend. Why, though, make a debate out of a tradition initially designed to be filled with, well, love.
I’m the first to admit that my teenage self still gets thrilled to the idea of dinner and flowers kind of Valentine’s Day date. Most women I know feel the same, but that doesn’t make us shallow. It makes us human. It’s particularly hard to resist such temptations when you’re being bombarded, a month in advance, with flashy reminders from your local stores, TV shows and Facebook friends.
Five or seven years ago I would’ve succumbed to this pressure, forcing myself to dress up and lock away my inner homebody. A couple Valentine’s Days ago, I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable on our way to a restaurant nearby. My bum was freezing in an otherwise cute skirt; my feet, normally happy in sneakers, were wobbling on high heels. I ended snapping at my husband when he asked to top off the night with a quick stroll around the neighborhood.
At the other end of the spectrum, the dearest recollections I have of this holiday from recent years are the ones requiring two ingredients - pjs and beer.
What changed over time is the emotional journey with a man I now call husband. It nudges me to focus on something other than what people might expect me to do on this day.
Like the way he cared for me last week. A horrible cold kept me bed ridden and I was frantically sneezing into my pillows, sheets and pretty much every piece of fabric I could find around the house. Or how he surprised me on January first of 2015 by waiting outside the building I work in with a bunch of flowers gently tucked in his coat.
That’s not to say Valentine’s Day should be scratch off the American holidays list or any other country for that matter. If you can name at least one person you love (your family members included), then you have endless reasons to celebrate it. It’s none of anyone’s business whether you choose to do that at home, watching Netflix, or in a fancy restaurant, popping champagne. As cheesy as it sounds, love is all that matters.