Getting through Valentine’s Day is not as easy as it looks. Flowers, candy, romance, how complicated can that be? Sometimes very. My own early experiences with this holiday were questionable at best. My first memory of Valentine’s Day was being the only kid in third grade who did not get a valentine from anyone. I was crushed. This was not a good omen for the years to come.
I’ve had some good ones and some bad ones in the years since. My best one was when my husband proposed to me on Valentine’s Day. (That proposal led to 18 happy years of marriage, and 8 of my 9 kids). That was my best Valentine’s Day ever. Some of the other years were good, some bad, but none as good as that. (My other husband gave me 12 dozen roses and filled a hotel room with rose petals, while we were engaged. But these were extreme cases.)
It shouldn’t be all that complicated to get flowers or candy, or taken out to dinner, but sometimes it is. (Expecting a marriage proposal may be too much to ask. A nice dinner with someone you love would be great).
I was startled to realize this year how many terrific women I know who didn’t have a date for Valentine’s Day, divorced, single, young, older, from 21 to my age. Some were philosophical about it, some said they didn’t care, others were crushed or even bitter. I had dinner with an old friend at the last minute. I haven’t had a serious Valentine’s Day date for years. (Maybe I used up all my tickets?) But I was sad to see how upset some of my women friends were about not having a date. A holiday like Valentine’s Day can really make you feel left out, if you don’t have a romance in your life at the moment. And it can make you feel like a real loser, or as though romance will never come your way again. That’s not true of course, you can meet someone wonderful at any moment—but a holiday dedicated to love, and heavily commercially touted is really tough if you’re alone at the present time.
I remember several years back, I went to mass on Valentine’s Day when it fell on a Sunday. I was startled when the priest announced at the end of the service that we were going to celebrate all the couples in church. They were asked to raise their hands, and ushers rushed forward to give each woman in those couples a flower, which they held proudly, and the rest of us were told to applaud them. Ugh! Yuk! Boy did I feel awful. Those women left the church with their mate, carrying a flower, and the rest of us walked out alone and empty handed. It felt as though the message was ‘and for all you losers who don’t have a guy—-you don’t deserve a flower’. I complained about it later. Those of us who were alone needed that flower a lot more than all the women with husbands and boyfriends. And we should have been applauded for our courage.
I used to give a Valentine dance every year until I could no longer find a date and decided to switch to a Halloween party instead.
I love the idea of Valentine’s Day and romance, but when it’s not happening, I think we need to find an alternate plan. And let’s face it, some years are just not so great.
This year I found the perfect card to send to my friends who are currently not in relationships or romances. There was a poodle on the front, wearing dark glasses, smoking a cigarette and holding a martini, and inside it said: “I hate love. I hate men. I spit on Valentine’s Day.” I nearly fell down laughing when I found it—and I sent it to a lot of friends. It just struck me funny.
The hardest is when there is someone on the fringes of your life, and you hope he’ll come through, and he doesn’t. It’s almost easier to have no one and no expectations at all. At least you know what to expect and you won’t be disappointed. Nothing hurts more than being forgotten on Valentine’s Day, and having your hopes dashed. But if you know there’s no chance of it at all this year, then you can have dinner with a girlfriend.
I hope your Valentine’s Day was terrific this year, and totally romantic. But if it wasn’t, know that that’s not a forever situation, and it may be a whole lot better next year. I hope it will be. I was very grateful for the friend who took me to dinner, who didn’t have romance in his life either. (We used to date about a hundred years ago and wound up friends after, which is nice too). We had a nice time, and half way through dinner, one of my daughters joined us. (She was in the ‘I spit on Valentine’s Day’ mode too. And we all had fun.)
So don’t spit on Valentine’s Day forever. Just this year, if it was disappointing. I firmly believe that those of us who are alone may well be having a romantic evening next year, and we may be the ones to walk out of church holding the flower. It could just happen! Wait til next year and see how it shakes out. I’ll bet it will be a great one!