This was published today in the Northbrook Tower. It’s my “North Shore Mom” column for today:
Having written and published three romance novels, one would think I live for Valentine’s Day. I enjoy writing love stories that are dreamy and passionate, and that make women feel hopeful that true romantic love really does exist. My characters are heroines and Prince Charmings, and not one ending of a Jackie Pilossoph novel is anything short of borderline nauseatingly happily ever after.
So, when it comes to February 14th, wouldn’t it make sense that I would be in my glory, baking heart-shaped cookies and sending out cards with lipstick imprints on the envelopes?
I’d like to come out of the closet and declare that I seriously cannot stand Valentine’s Day. It is a manufactured, pressure filled holiday that causes everything from high expectations to overspending to disappointment to the worst one–weight gain.
In my lifetime of Valentine’s Days, I have been single, single but with a boyfriend, happily married, unhappily married, divorced and single, and divorced and single but with a boyfriend. I can say with certainty no matter what relationship status I had at the time, I never looked forward to Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day brings pressure (like we don’t have enough in our lives) to both men and women.
“What should I get him if we’ve only been dating for two months?” “Do I have to take her out for dinner after 15 years of marriage?” “If I get him too nice of a gift, and he doesn’t get me anything? Will that be awkward?” “What if she gets upset when she sees a dozen roses and no Tiffany’s ring box?” These are all unnecessary concerns and added stress that people have, just because it’s Valentine’s Day. Who needs it?
It’s as if there’s a law that you have to give someone a gift on February 14th, or do something really special. What’s wrong with buying your girlfriend a dozen roses on February 19th? Or any other day of the year, for that matter? Why can’t you give your husband a really nice card on March 1st, just to tell him how much you love and appreciate him? Does the card mean more if you give it to someone on Valentine’s Day? Absolutely not! In fact, it means less.
Then there’s the dinner reservation. Restaurants on Valentine’s Day are packed and overpriced, a lot of them having fixed menus. Why do you have to go out for dinner just because it’s Valentine’s Day? I guarantee if you go the next night, or the night before, you will have your pick of tables and times, you can order off the menu, and you’ll probably get much better service because it won’t be so packed.
Another reason Valentine’s Day bugs me is because of the candy. Chocolate hearts, candy kisses, pink and red frosted cupcakes. There’s more calorie filled food lying around everywhere on this day, causing me indulge, and experience sugar overload, which leads to bloating, weight gain, and just plain old feeling gross. It’s almost worse than Halloween in that regard.
Valentine’s Day is also a day for school parties, which doesn’t make sense to me. Are we training our children early in life to express their love in terms of candy?
This year, in lieu of a craft at my son’s fifth grade class Valentine’s Day party, the kids will be making Valentine’s Day cards for sick and injured children in the hospital. I am truly touched and honored that they will be using Valentine’s Day to do something so thoughtful.
Here’s the thing. I think Valentine’s Day is a very infatuation based day, and an early relationship holiday. I’m not sure anyone is disappointed when spending their first Valentine’s Day with their new boyfriend or girlfriend. The relationship is still new, and both the guy and the girl end up doing something exceptionally romantic. But I guarantee, the first Valentine’s Day is the Valentine’s Day in which each puts the most amount of effort, no matter how long they stay together, even if it’s forever. And actually, that’s okay. It’s understandable, perhaps even sweet, if you can see it for what it is.
People who have true love don’t need Valentine’s Day, and they don’t care about Valentine’s Day. True love means that every day is Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day does present one really good opportunity, and that is to give your kids a Valentine to let them know how much you love them. It doesn’t even have to be a gift. A handwritten card can boost self esteem and make a child feel your love and how much you truly care.
That said, I think parents should give their kids handwritten cards and notes, not just on Valentine’s Day, but several times throughout the year to show their love in that way. When a child reads, “I love you,” their heart will soar, no matter if it’s February 14th or June 10th or November 2nd.
The thing is, there’s no one who loves love and romance more than me. I’m a fan of couple’s massages and candlelight dinners and love notes left on the pillow. But I don’t like any of those things when they are forced, or when there’s a commercial based obligation involved.
Being romantic is wonderful and fun and exciting. Being romantic on Valentine’s Day is trite.
Happy Valentine’s Day! But you didn’t hear that from me.