There. I said it. I hate it with absolutely primal passion. The sight of red candy hearts fills me with loathing, heart-shaped Whitman’s samplers make me want to buy an Uzi, and don’t even get me started on pwecious wittle stuffed bears. Red lingerie, I loathe you. “He went to Jared!” commercials: let’s go outside and settle this like grown-ups.
I hate Valentine’s Day more than I hate Rachel Ray.
And after I get done hating it for all these grown up reasons, I get to hate it all over again as a mother. I hate Valentine’s Day parties. I hate cartoon character Valentine’s cards – cards my children aren’t even supposed to write on, since they will be shoved in backpacks willy nilly without a thought as to who they are for. I am hopping up and down right now, hating the whole made-up, Hallmark holiday.
Why so much vitriol? Well, first of all, couples shouldn’t need someone else to tell them when it’s time to declare their undying love for one another. In reality, the best “undying love” declarations come at the end of a hard day, when your loved one holds you as you come in the door beaten down and exhausted. When they wake up with you and your stomach flu at 3am, and bring you a cold glass of water without saying a word. When they tell you the same silly joke they’ve told you 4 million times, and then wait for you to roll your eyes and laugh at them. These things can’t be manufactured, scheduled, coated in red paint and delivered with a bow.
And why am I also so bent out of shape about a harmless children’s party? Well, part of that probably has to do with the fact that I have boys – boys who don’t tell me they are having a party or need Valentine’s cards until they’re on their way out the door for school on party day. But aside from that – what does it tell our kids that we celebrate one day of the year when we tell all our friends that we “like” them? Do they learn from this that they need special occasions and frosted cupcakes before they can tell a friend “you’re better than candy, you’re so sweet”? Shouldn’t we be teaching them to appreciate the simple, sweet things their friends do for them every day? The friend who grabs the book you drop and runs after you to give it back, the one who stands up for you on the playground when you’ve having a bad day, the one who loans you his sweatshirt when you’re cold?
The fabric of our lives is made up of these infinitesimal events; these tiny stitches put an entire quilt of relationships together. We don’t need garish Snoopy cards and cheap roses to show appreciation and love for one another. We have our valentines in our hands and our words every day; we should use them, and teach our children to do the same.