I love Valentine’s Day. I’ve loved it since the first time I woke up to a 12-pack of Diet Coke and three red roses on the dresser next to my twin bed in my bright red room. I was probably 7 or 8. I felt so loved and grownup. Flowers! For me! I’m sure I saved them for entirely too long, because my mother always indulged her children’s sometimes questionable “decorating” inclinations.
In middle school, I adored selling oversized suckers that we called “Candygrams” the week of Valentine’s Day to raise money for Junior Optimist. I hated those suckers, but I loved writing out people’s messages to friends and likers (the middle school equivalent of “lovers?”) It was such a peephole into what makes people feel good: Having someone to call theirs. Having someone beautiful to admire. Having someone to laugh with. Having someone to have inside jokes with.
I wonder whether those people are still writing similar messages to their loved ones today. At their root, a lot of the things I love today and find happiness and comfort in today are the same as in middle school, just a little better cultivated. And, I like to think, with much better taste.
In high school we moved into carnation delivery. For $1.00 you could send a carnation with a message to be delivered during class. In retrospect, there are a lot of issues with this set-up. But in high school, I loved it.
I’ve always been a miser, so I’d save my milk-and-soda-machine money all through February knowing that the week of Valentine’s I would want to send more flowers than originally planned. I’d go from 10 carnations to 20, because I’d have shared a great laugh with Lauren in calculus and want to send her one. Or Tara would have given me the best compliment. Or Siobahn would mention that she sent a flower to everyone on the cheer squad, and I’d panic and do the same. I was better, then, at practicing and showing non-romantic love.
As irritating as “LYLAS” and high school girl shrieking adoration can be, there’s something special about the unabashedness with which teenagers shower love on each other. Of course there’s an element of showmanship about it, and I know the praise they give one another helps to cloak a lot of self-loathing and self-doubt. But I wish 30-year-old me was as forthcoming as 16-year-old me with the “Whoooooos.” A good “Whoo” can make you feel, well, good!
In college, Valentine’s Day meant the annual “Pink to Drink” party. Is there anything more fun than an excuse to wear a tutu and a crown? I know not. Valentine’s also comes just a week after the birthdays of my college roommates, and a double-whammy celebration of women you admire and adore is pretty great.
Oh, and I had Matt in college. But he’s never really excelled at Valentine’s Day.
This year I’m trying to embrace more of that non-romantic celebration of Valentine’s — and the low cost element. Couldn’t we all use a little extra reminder to love one another? And a $1 carnation always made me feel like a million bucks, so why am I looking at $60 bouquets on UrbanStems today?
I’m thinking of delivering cookies to neighbors. Of course they’ll have electric pink icing, but I think, perhaps, it will be just one-cookie-per-member-of-the-household. No need to go overboard.
And for the weekend, a getaway to a cabin in the woods. It will be snowing. It won’t look anything like “The Holiday.” We’ll have three dogs and four friends. I expect there will be a healthy amount of bickering. And I can’t wait for the eyerolls when I roll out the heart-shaped cake and declare my love for each of them and their special place in my life.
For Matt? I bought his gift at Costco. Because that’s love-in-your-30s.
Happy upcoming Valentine’s Day. There’s still time to Amazon some doilies and make a few cards.
Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.