relationships & love

Valentine’s Day – an alternative user’s guide

by Cheney — February 12, 2013

I don’t care much for Valentine’s Day.

This isn’t a radical statement.

I outsourced the search for this post's image to my boyfriend. He found me this picture of a potato. He is a true romantic.

I outsourced the search for this post’s image to my boyfriend. He found me this picture of a potato. He is a true romantic.

Take almost any day to which there has been attached some significance by way of history, Hallmark-greeting-card executives, or producers of awful, ensemble-cast films and there’ll be a long line of people telling you why you shouldn’t be celebrating that particular day. Some people dislike Christmas, others get cynical about birthdays and when I was growing up , it was really popular for Australian parents to hate on Halloween. But not me – instead, I’ve chosen to not give a crap about Valentine’s Day.

My disdain for Valentine’s Day is not active or aggressive. I don’t begrudge people candlelit dinners or long-stemmed roses or red lingerie. If you have the kind of busy life that means you need an occasional scheduled reminder to do something romantic, that’s cool. I’ve just never felt particularly into it.

I probably spend too much time already eating chocolates and taking baths (in fact, you may posit that excess time spent in self-indulgence is exactly why I’m not busy with a high-flying executive career). I imagine I’d feel the same way about Christmas if every week I sat under a tree, opened up some presents with my family, ate an enormous meal and had a nap at 3pm. “Didn’t I just do this last Tuesday? Why is there a special day for it?”, is what fictional, full-of-turkey-and-holder-of-many-gift-cards me would say.

As far as Valentine’s Day goes, I prefer to buy my own lingerie, I’m not really into teddy bears, and I enjoy it if the person I love is just nice to me on a general, ongoing basis. So, what’s a not-so-die-hard romantic to do on February the 14th? You could just do what I normally do and treat it like any other day, but I have this blog post to write and I’m short on subject matter. So I’ve thought of a few ways to subtly co-opt Valentine’s Day to make it more inclusive for all levels of enthusiasm.

It’s supposed to be about love, right? I love my boyfriend, the majority of my family members and my cat. But there’s also other people and inaminate objects that I love. I love my friends. I love the other members of the editorial team at work when we’re on a big project. I love chocolate milk and gin (but not together). Why not spend Valentine’s Day expressing love and appreciation for someone who doesn’t always get to hear it? Take a friend out to dinner. Make cookies for your workmates. Write a poem for that bus driver who doesn’t grumble when he has to change a $20 note for you and always plays reggae on the stereo.

What about people you don’t love? Random strangers need love too. A bit of kindness would probably suffice. So how about just being generally nice on Valentine’s Day? It’s just one day, you don’t have to go around being polite all the time. Try paying someone a non-creepy compliment, top up their parking meter, or just smile a bit more. Once I wrote nice little notes and left them in the pages library books, but this is because I’m quirky and totally like the movies.

Help make love more equal. I think this is actually a really good idea, jokes aside. For a lot of people in the world, love comes with complications. I can’t imagine not being able to have my loving relationship legally recognised just because I happened to love a woman instead of a man. So, if you’re really a big fan of love for everyone, why not donate to a charity who works toward helping same-sex couples get the same kind of recognition for their relationships as hetero couples? Australian Marriage Equality has a list of friendly organisations around the world, as a good place to start.

If you’ve got any other ideas about making Valentine’s Day more suitable for you, I’d love to hear it. I may even write you a nice little haiku when the next Valentine’s Day rolls around. Or just help you carry your shopping.

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