Valentine’s Day: A Mixed Bag

February 11, 2014

By Wallrich

I am in a love/hate relationship—with Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I’m a sucker for cute teddy bears and sappy cards. I love getting flowers and seeing grocery store shelves lined with pink chocolate-filled hearts. I love love. On the other hand, all that anticipation can be a set-up for major disappointment.

I remember in first grade having a class Valentine’s Day party. Back then, everybody gave everybody a valentine. Earlier in the week we made heart-shaped containers out of red construction paper to accommodate all the cards we’d all get. My mom took me to the store where I picked out cards with Snork characters on them to distribute.

After giving out all my cards, I came back to my desk to find my mailbox bursting with valentines. Everyone’s was. Each desk was covered in them. And much to my surprise, I got a bonus valentine gift—a small bundle of white flowers my classmate had picked from his yard for me, just me.

Little did I know there was no way that all subsequent Valentine’s Days could match this level of delight. When you get older, the giving and receiving of valentines becomes much more selective. I remember one year all my friends got flowers and chocolates while I went home empty handed. No other day of the year can make you feel so lonely and embarrassed. After first grade, it’s a holiday that really only works when you have a good person to share it with.

I know some people think Valentine’s Day is just a “Hallmark holiday” designed to make people buy things. But I decided long ago you don’t have to buy anything to show someone you care. One of the best valentines I ever received was a wood box covered in red paper. I needed a box cutter to open it. Inside was my favorite candy: Rocher. Thirteen years later I still have the red box, and I’m married to the man who made it for me.

The gifts have changed over time. Like most girls, I’ve learned it’s true that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Instead of (or in addition to) heart-shaped cookies with red sprinkles, I might make him a balsamic-marinated skirt steak.

So you don’t need to go out and spend a lot of money to show you care. (No, that does NOT mean you can get away with sending a free e-card.) Do something as simple as pick a few flowers. Or bake some brownies. Surprise the one you love. Making a little effort makes all the difference.

Valentine’s Day: A Mixed Bag

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