I love holidays — Christmas, New Year’s, Passover, Boxing Day… the ceremony of decorating a Christmas tree, the symbolism of parsley dipped in salt water. I eat it up.
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So when it comes to Valentine’s Day — a whole 24 hours dedicated to celebrating love — well, I had signed up for it (with a lifetime membership) by first grade. The night of February 13th, you could find me meticulously decorating my V-Day “mailbox” and handcrafting valentines for each and every one of my classmates. Candy, skipping class for delivery, the anticipation of a crush becoming an official “like,” what wasn’t there to love!?
But as I grew out of sugar hearts and hand-colored cards, I learned that there actually was a whole lot not to love. All of a sudden a day that was supposed to be about celebrating the affection you had for those in your life turned into a day of “prove-to-me-how-much-you-like-me.”
By my twenties, Valentine’s Day had officially morphed into a morning filled with high hopes that, by night, had disintegrated into disappointments.
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I waited for the guy I was kinda seeing/kinda not sure what we were to send a sweet text with prose professing his love for me. It never came.
I spent glorious sunny days totally bummed because my phone was trickling in with texts from girlfriends like: “This day sucks,” “I hate love,” “Want to go to a Love Is Dead party with me?”
And then, after my boyfriend of three years broke it off with me on Valentine’s Day, and I spent the night crying over whiskey and soggy fries, I knew I’d had enough. What was it with this damn day!?
By the time I started dating my current boyfriend, I was still soured on (Stupid) Cupid’s Day.
As our first V-Day together approached, it was clear that we’d been dating long enough to do something really special together, but not long enough for him to really know what makes me tick when it came to the romantic stuff. I could see the let-down coming a mile away, and I didn’t want to feel it, not with this guy, this guy I was so infatuated with in all the right ways.
“Do you wanna, like, not celebrate Valentine’s Day with me?” I asked him, the words falling out of my mouth before I could stop them.
His eyes lit up like the women’s do in every Kay Jewelers engagement ring commercial.
“Yes!” he exclaimed. I’d never seen him so excited. “It’s so much pressure! And it’s so stupid. Why do I have to show my love for you on one particular day? I’d hope that I would do that every day.”
So we made a deal. We would never celebrate Valentine’s Day, but promised we’d try to celebrate our love throughout the year as often as it felt right.
And I have to say, random flowers on a Tuesday in April, a trip to New Orleans because we feel like it, or a sweet note by the coffee maker in the morning beats a Valentine’s Day date any day.
But that’s not all. In addition to those little acts of unprompted love, here are the five best things about ditching V-Day.
1. 100% no disappointments
It’s simple math. No expectations = no disappointments. And you know what this does? Because there’s no pressure, it kinda creates the perfect day.
Last Valentine’s Day we took a stroll, accidentally timing it with a perfect sunset, ordered takeout, and watched a horror movie in our oldest, rattiest sweatpants. If that’s not heaven, I don’t know what is. When you lower your expectations, you raise your chances of happiness.
2. We actually get to do something we like
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE chocolates, dressing up, and going out to dinner. It’s my jam. But going to a restaurant that’s totally overcrowded, overpriced, and probably overloaded with cutesy is not quite my cup of tea.
Instead, we might splurge on tickets to see Explosions in the Sky in April, or plan a weekend getaway to Seattle in March. It feels tailor-fit to our relationship because it is. And that feels like a pretty damn special way to celebrate our unique, particular kind of love.
3. I get to focus on the friendship aspects of love on V-Day
Instead of utter disappointments, I have two things that now occupy me on Valentine’s Day: celebrating my lady friendships with Galentine’s Day, and celebrating my relationship with my mom.
Ever since I was a little girl, my grandmother would send my mom and me a heart-shaped box of See’s candy. I hold the memories of my mom and I barefoot in the kitchen fighting over certain chocolates so close to my heart.
Now that my grandma has passed away, my mom and I have continued the tradition by sending each other the same box of candies. Picking out the different sweet morsels, remembering the women in my family and their love for me, is so much more precious when it’s not tainted by a romantic relationship let-down.
4. I will never, ever have to fake-smile through a cheesy, pre-written Valentine’s Day card again
Yes, this is a bit shallow. “It’s the thought that counts” blah blah blah, but those pre-written cards that men always seem to reach for at CVS… ugh. They have the longest paragraph of text explaining how much the card-giver loves you, but like, a) said card-giver did not write this about you and b) I need to take my Lactaid pill cause they are cheesy AF.
5. We get to celebrate our love every day
Taking something away from your relationship that’s traditionally a chance to show your love to someone is a big deal. That’s why we’ve promised to make each other feel as loved as possible every day as a replacement.
By doing this, we’re celebrating the mundane triumphs of our love, not the romanticized version. Yes, my boyfriend will make sweeping romantic gestures with surprise flowers every once in awhile, but it’s when he randomly cleans off my writing desk because he wants me to have a fabulous place to create, or how he makes sure I have water on my nightstand every single night, that truly makes me feel so, so loved.