This is one of those holidays about which I've got a tremendous amount of ambivalence, which can border on outright hostility at times, depending on my mood. Let me start by acknowledging my single friends, as well as those who are mired in unhappy marriages and relationships. I remember what Valentine's Day feels like to you, and the whiny complaining you're about to hear pales in comparison to what your feeling today. I recognize that. So consider yourselves "acknowledged."
Unlike some couples I know, Jeanette and I did not decide to get married, or begin going out, or have our first kiss, on Saint Valentine's Day. I can understand why people choose to celebrate each other on the dates that commemorate these events, but being forced to spend money on flowers, chocolates, or whatever it is, seems so random to me. Every year I try to collude with my wife on this point. "Let's not fall into this corporate bullshit trap, honey. What do you say? No Valentine's Day for us this year?"
This conversation usually happens right when they first start with the diamond and lingerie ads -- just after the New Year. At that point -- so far removed from the upcoming holiday, she's likely to say, "Yeah, sure. Why not? Let's skip it." And I am pleased that she is my partner -- not only in life, but in standing up to this annual corporate mugging of the American people. We won't be pulled into it. Hell NO!
You'd think I would have figured it out by now. As we draw closer to February 14, and the ads intensify, and more and more people around us volunteer their plans for the day, and solicit ours, she invariably comes to me. It happens every year, in different places, at different times. This year it was on a Sunday evening, January 30, as we straightened up the kitchen after a good weekend of its use.
"And yes, honey," she said resolutely (out of nowhere, I might add -- the "yes" suggested we'd just been discussing the matter, even though we hadn't said a word about it since New Years), "I DO want you to make a big deal over me for Valentine's Day."
I learned a long time ago that Jeanette is not interested in my political opinion on this particular holiday. It is of no concern to her whether it is man-made or somehow intrinsic to our union. She is a woman and, as such, wishes to be wooed and courted and cared for and doted upon. In a word, she wishes to be loved. And in her defense, who among us doesn't share this wish?
As artificial as the day may be, Valentine's is more of a symbol than anything else. So yes, I got her the kind of flowers she likes, and yes, she got me some pajamas with hearts on them. And you know what? I absolutely loved receiving them from her.
Happy Saint Valentine's Day, y'all!