Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Smiling Through Valentine's Day

A quick reiteration of past advice for Singles and Marrieds on Valentine's Day. Fortunately, this is not a universal holiday and the ubiquity of red-pink-and-white in Canada and the USA is absent from Europe. V-Day is still a thing in the UK, but it is in no-one's face for 24 hours, let alone the 24/7 leading up to it.

Past blog reader experiments reveal that the best way for a Single dreading V-Day to actually smile through it is to send cards and chocolate to other Single (or Widowed) friends and family, to host Girls'-Night-In parties for other girls and women without boyfriends, fiancés or husbands, or to do something really affectionate and special for elderly relations. One reader secretly decorated her grandmother's house with a Valentine's Day motif, and other readers spent the day with their widowed grandfather. Do something nice for others you love (and who love you), expect nothing in return, and you will feel great.

Stay out of bars and clubs; sexual predators (pre-daters?) redouble their efforts to chat up lonely women on Valentine's Day. Go to Mass, meet with Single pals, exchange sweets, go watch a fun film together, and make sure your empty bed is one you are happy to return to. (Fresh sheets, for example. A new blanky. Decent reading lamp. New-to-you Georgette Heyer.)

Experiments also reveal that some Singles are slightly weirded out when the Valentine's Day tokens of affection come from engaged and married friends. Thus, I recommend that Singles busily send the valentines and cards to other Singles, and the Marrieds just attend to their vocations.

As for girls with boyfriends, expect the wrong thing. It will almost always be the wrong thing if you live in a Valentine's Day culture because men's ability to be romantic (sincerely and spontaneously) is almost never as expansive in reality as it is in the female imagination. A friend whose boyfriend took her out for dinner and gave her [fashion accessory] once told me in deep disappointment that he had given her [fashion accessory] and she felt that The Rules (a '90s thing, bear with me) would not think [fashion accessory] romantic enough. She was definitely overthinking this.

One feels badly for all the adult, employed (or in grad school) men who give their Catholic girlfriends of more than one year something other than an engagement ring and their girlfriends start to cry. No, wait--one doesn't. Putzes.

This expect-the-wrong-thing advice also goes for girls with fiances and husbands unless you are the kind of woman who feels confident enough to tell your fiance or husband what you want for Valentine's Day. It's too bad if you think he should know without you telling him because for the first few years he is just not going to know unless you tell him. This goes for birthdays, too. So tell him.

"For Valentine's Day, I'd like to go out for dinner."
"Aw, really? But they all jack up the prices on Valentine's Day."
"For Valentine's Day, I'd like to go out for dinner."
"Why not lunch? Maybe we could meet at McDonald's during our lunch hour...."
"For Valentine's Day, I'd like to go out for dinner."
"Uh. I guess I hear you saying that for Valentine's Day, you'd like to go out for dinner."
"Oooh! Yes, please, thanks! Somewhere nice and romantic."

Single girls can learn from this that not all those couples at the restaurants you pass are blissfully happy. They really aren't. Take the couple silently swigging in the corner. The restaurant isn't living up to romantic expectations, and it's too expensive for one of them, and the guy sent carnations to her workplace (CARNATIONS!) and now he's wondering if the funny socks he's about to give her were a bad idea. Meanwhile the vast majority of Happily Marrieds will not be in a restaurant but in front of the television as usual, the wife having got a perfunctory box of chocolate and the husband even less.


  1. Nailed it!

    Luckily for me (and for Kiwis too) Valentine's Day in the antipodes is kind of like Valentine's Day in the UK or Europe -- no one cares.

    This Valentine's Day I am meeting a friend for coffee. I have not seen her for awhile. I am secretly hoping that people assume we are a lesbian couple.

    I am also planning to stay the heck off Facebook. People can't help telling everybody how #blessed they are, or how their boyfriend is #thebestboyfriendever.

    My parents ignore Valentine's Day. For birthdays and Christmas and their anniversary, they get each other, like, the same thing all the time.

    That's a common phenomenon, I think, and it has nothing to do with wealth. My millionaire uncle has given his wife the exact same pair of earrings every anniversary since they got married in 1992. She asked for something different once. He was bit offended. She said, "I like the earrings, but I have, like, twenty pairs of them now..."


  2. Julia, your uncle's gift totally cracks me up!! I wonder what he thinks she possibly needs with more than one pair of the same earring?

    I would also add that sending Valentines to small children is fun too!! I enjoy sending them to my nieces. Small children love getting mail. :)

  3. Great advice. For some reason, I missed the boat about caring much about Valentine's Day (perhaps because for 7-8 years, including the year I was engaged, I was focused on preparing for the Edith Stein Project?), but I've employed this for my anniversary and my birthday.

    Ditto Julia's uncle's gift! Hilarious.

    And yes to Valentine's for small children! My two-year-old LOVES mail. I think she's a bit in love with the mailman as he brings her the baby Highlight's magazine, her favorite thing to read.