For some people, it is just another day. For others, it’s the most dreaded day of the year. Up until now, I have absolutely detested the day. Actually, the entire week was pretty awful for me. I hated the days leading up to Valentine’s day, the day itself, and every day of the week that came after it. If I wasn’t dating anyone, it felt like torture. I woke up in the morning with my mantra on the tip of my tongue, “I am going to be totally fine today.” And by the end of the night, I was either in tears or hating on every couple that walked by.
In college, my entire dorm was filled with roses, candy, and giddy girls. And then there is that moment that I would walk past the desk and think, “Maybe one of the 72 dozen roses behind the desk just might be for me.” They never were. So from sun up to sun down, I was surrounded by chocolate, huge cards, flowers of every variety, and snuggling couples. It sucked.
In the working world, it’s a different variation of the same thing. It is very clear who is in a relationship and who is not. And there is no getting around the fact that you are really hoping that somewhere, in some distant land, some secret admirer has decided to send you a box of Godiva chocolates. I did unexpectedly receive flowers when I was single. They turned out to be from my dad. Once I got past the fact that my I didn't have a secret admirer, I have to admit that my father did brighten my day.
When I was dating someone, I hated Valentine’s day just as much. Looking back, the day was so awful for me because I chose to date guys who never, ever thought about me for 364 days out of the year. I was hoping that for just one day, maybe they would focus their attention on me. Instead, I received gifts that had nothing to do with me. I am really not a fan of chocolate covered cherries and teddy bears, yet those were the types of gifts that I received. They were gifts that celebrated the commercialism of the holiday, but not gifts that celebrated our relationship or anything I liked.
The best Valentine’s Day I have ever had was the weekend I met my significant other. We met for the first time on February 13th. On the phone, he said to me, “So what should I bring you for Valentine’s Day? What do you like?” Because it was our first date, I didn’t think it was appropriate to bring a gift but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. “Remember the hearts with “Be Mine” on them? You could bring me a pack of those for all I care.” When he showed up, he had a card and a gift bag. He handed me the bag and said, “I bought every single package of sweet tarts they had.” There where fifteen boxes of sweet tarts and on every box, he had written, “From K.B. to K.C.”
I have grown to tolerate Valentine’s Day. For me, the importance of the day has nothing to do with presents or gifts. It’s about the fact that I no longer fall prey to the emotional stress of one day. One particular day, it hit me...there are millions of women getting gifts all over the world who have significant others who will go back to treating them terribly the very next day. For some couples, it's a show where the holiday plays center stage. That helped me to not freak out over what someone did or didn't buy me. It put things in perspective.
The unfortunate part about Valentine's Day is that it makes a lot of people feel like there is a huge spotlight shining down on them with sirens and red lights, pointing out the very fact that they are single. In reality, it's a day that a lot of people hide the fact that they are in unhealthy relationships that are covered up with candy and flowers.
It took me a long time to find a mate who changed the meaning of Valentine's Day. He doesn’t buy me teddy bears or chocolate covered cherries. Instead, he understands that love notes and little things aren't just for one day. Anybody can buy a dozen roses on February 14th, but a guy who can send you a Pablo Neruda poem on a Wednesday in July can make you feel more important than any Valentine’s Day gift in the world. I wish someone had told me that a long time ago.