I know this idea won't make me popular. I've heard all the arguments from the critics: that Valentine's Day is just a holiday made up by greeting card companies in order to extort the average Joe's hard earned money; that it is a day that sets up unreasonable expectations and forces couples to "play" romantic once a year, yadayadayada. I don't care. I still love Valentine's Day.
There is something wonderful about a day that is focused solely on love. And I'm not talking about the cheapo-gift-bought-from-Walgreen's type of love. I'm talking about true love--the little gestures we make toward one another that mean so much. Like when my husband cleans up the kitchen and gives Aiden a bath because he know's I'm tired, or when I give Brad an unexpected back rub and make his favorite kind of dinner--that kind of love. I can't help but enjoy a day that is all about doing something sweet for someone I care about.
Don't get me wrong--I think that the current state of Valentine's Day is ridiculous. Wednesday night, I ran to Kroger to buy some cupcakes for Aiden's Valentine's day party at school. (Yeah, yeah, a better mom would have made them homemade, but I have a life, thank you). I was shocked at how many desperate people I saw roaming the halls of the grocery store looking for the perfect gift for their sweetheart. I mean, give me a break--do you really think you can find romance in the aisle next to the diapers?!
My advice--try skipping the stores all together. My favorite kinds of Valentine's gifts--the hand-made card Aiden created for me, with a little help from daddy. The love-letter my husband scribbled in his almost-illegible handwriting that was sincere and from the heart. The card he gave me in which he had written how to say "I love you" in 15 different languages and then told me how much he wished he could take me to each of these places to tell me. These gifts don't cost a lot, they aren't stocked on the shelves at your local pharmacy to be frantically grabbed in the 15-minutes you have on your way home from work. No, the perfect gift takes time, thought, and a little creativity.
I think I'm probably in the minority with this idea. For so many people, Valentine's Day is all about the gift--the bigger, the better. And the media certainly fuels this idea--for weeks prior, you are bombarded with commercials proclaiming how the gift you buy is a measure of your love. Yesterday morning, on my way to work, a popular radio show was announcing guidelines for spending on Valentine's Day. Apparently, if you've "put up with" someone for more than a year, then you have "earned" a gift in that is valued at more than $400. $400! According to this logic, Brad and I should be spending close to $1000 dollars, practically our entire Christmas budget, on each other for one random day in February!! And how horrible is this idea--the longer I put up with you, the more you "owe me" for the favor of my company. What a lovely sentiment!
Since we couldn't get a sitter for the actual Valentine's Day, we celebrated early, then last night, we enjoyed an evening at home. Brad picked up dinner from La Madeleine and we enjoyed our dinner, serenaded by the sounds of a 3 year old throwing a tantrum. It was a simple evening at home, but I really enjoyed it. No, it wasn't all romance and candlelight--but it was real love. There were tears and tantrums, laughter and giggles, loving kisses and silly raspberries blown on little round bellies, family hugs and the joy of time spent together. What more could I ask for?