I’ve got to be honest.

I hate Valentine’s Day.

I, of course, hated it in college, when it was a popularity contest of who got called, who got flowers, who got asked out. It was never me. I was always the funny, slightly heavier, not-so-beautiful side-kick of the truly beautiful girl (I mean, did you see Kylie’s curls in college?)

So in my twenties, Valentine’s Day was a reminder that I wasn’t ‘all-that’. Then, after college, I met my husband, who miraculously, thought I was perfect. We’ve been married for almost 15 years.

I still am loathe to find a reason to love this day of love.

It feels made up (oh, wait, it is made up. Greeting Card companies decided to capitalize on the life of St. Valentine, mostly because St. Valentine was a proponent of marriage among military troops, defying Claudius II assumption that single men were better fighters). It feels like someone is manipulating my husband into spending money on me to prove his love to me. It is too often used to let couples off the hook, feeling like they’ve “done their part” by buying a card or flowers or a dinner-date, and so don’t have to do any actual or substantive work on their care for each other.

For the record, I know my husband hates it too. When we were first married, when I was still young and trying to recover from years of Valentine’s neglect, I think I guilted him into over-indulgence on Valentine’s Day. I not-so-subtly told him what I wanted, and he lovingly capitulated. It never felt genuine (imagine that!), and neither one of us felt more loved by the experience.

Now, Valentine’s goes largely un-celebrated here. The kids get a box of little chocolates for Valentine’s and a hand written note reminding them how much we love them.

But honestly, if the only love note I get is on Valentine’s Day, does it really mean that much? The love note I get on any random day in any random month that tells me I still make Don weak in the knees is vastly superior to a bunch of flowers or a box of candies delivered on a day that St. Valentine made famous by arguing with Claudius over marriage.

And while I’m glad to have the luxury of spending my Valentine’s Day with a man who makes me weak in the knees, I think I’d rather feel loved all the other days of the year, and leave this day to Claudius.

February 16, 2009


  1. b.

    February 14, 2009

    I soooooo agree with you.
    You described my feelings about the day very accurately.

  2. m&m

    February 14, 2009

    I don’t really like it, either, except that kidlets have fun with it, and it’s fun to do a thing or two for them (and their little love notes are always precious).

    The thought, too, of going OUT while every other couple in the state is, too, makes me want to crawl in my bed.

    We did have original plans to go to the Draper Temple open house, but ended up having ticket issues (as in, computer-comfy person that I am forgot to finish the order by clicking on that blasted link). I’m bummed about that, because the whole idea was to have a memory on Valentine’s Day that was totally different, and much more meaningful, than junk food and pink and red hearts.

    But if we dismiss all holidays that are hyped up so that people can make money, we might as well never celebrate. I wish there could be LESS of that all around, ya know?

  3. Roxie

    February 14, 2009

    I’ve always enjoyed the holiday. But I’ve never made it be about love for just one person. I still love picking out my box of cheesy cartoon Valentines and addressing them to my family and friends and delivering them. Spread the love I say.

    Not to mention all the chocolate that will be on sale next week!

  4. Melissa

    February 14, 2009

    I’ve always hated Valentine’s because I don’t understand why there is this holiday that is only aimed at people who are part of a couple. Like it didn’t already suck enough for everyone else to be single? We have to have a holiday to rub it in?

    My husband and I make a point of not celebrating V-day. We already have a special day for celebrating our love for each other the way we want to — our anniversary.

  5. Andrea R.

    February 14, 2009

    I agree with you too! Kylie lived in my dorm my freshman year, and her curls (and awesome hats) were the envy of all…but that’s not the point. My husband and I don’t celebrate it either — he does sweet, loving, spontaneous things for me all throughout the year. I look at Valentine’s day as a day to freely eat sugar cookies with frosting and as much chocolate as I want.

  6. rebekah

    February 14, 2009

    it makes me sad that people are so down on valentine’s. it is what YOU make it, just enjoy it.

    when i was little i loved this holiday because i loved making cards and giving little treats to my friend. it had nothing to do with the greeting card industry or societal pressure. sadly, i think it’s become the thing to do to hate valentine’s and i’m not sure i’ve ever heard a good enough reason why. as i said to my friends, there may be 364 other days to tell someone you love them, but there’s only one day a year when the rest of the world celebrates your love with you.

    just enjoy it!

  7. cristie

    February 14, 2009

    i LOVE valentine’s day and get bored with all of the whining. red hearts, cookies, memories of decorated boxes, cinnamon hearts, big fat wet kisses, cupid, and hugging those that i love. no, i don’t need a special day, but what’s wrong with a day devoted to thinking about love and not yourself. xox

  8. Sharlee

    February 14, 2009

    I love Valentine’s Day! I’ve never seen it as a day just for couples. For me, it’s about love in general (and chocolate, of course). Why not celebrate love and chocolate!? Plus, I like pink. 🙂

    I do dislike the commercialization of it all (but, as m&m points out, these days, what holiday *isn’t* commercialized?). Sometimes I think we just need to buck the system and and make the holiday what we want it to be.

  9. Michelle L.

    February 14, 2009

    I love the whole cream-filled, chocolate covered, cheap paper valentine, making cookies, door-ditching neighbors, secret love note day!

    Of course, it’s also the day I was born into motherhood. So I am biased.

  10. Justine

    February 14, 2009

    I have no ilk toward all the Valentine’s lovers in the world. I still love you all. I just can’t seem to get my heart into this day.

    I’ve tried and failed! I guess I’ve got the icy heart like Jennie…har har.

  11. jenny

    February 14, 2009

    Here’s the deal with me and Valentine’s day:

    It’s NEVER romantic. period. (echoing the sentiments of being “forced” by the calendar to *create* the romance…)

    But it is about the love. My kids love it. I left a special treat on their pillows for them to find today. I sent a special card to my grandma. What does it hurt to tell the special people in your life how much you love them? It doesn’t hurt a bit. (You can still do it every other day of the year as well.)
    And it can be fun, cheap and creative.

    love + fun + CHOCOLATE + other goodies = a good day.

    make the most of it.

  12. Red

    February 14, 2009

    I like Valentine’s Day because it’s a distraction from the miserable February weather! Some years we make it romantic, and every year I make spaghetti and meatballs (a la Lady and the Tramp) for the kids and enjoy the red and pink crafts. Spring is coming, right?

  13. Sue

    February 14, 2009

    I come down on the “liking Valentine’s Day” side. But then I’m sitting here wearing a ridiculous chunky bracelet that I normally wouldn’t be caught dead in that came from my husband (a man with excellent taste, normally) who told me he bought it because it was so big and clunky that he knew it would make me think about him every time I wore it.

    He’s right.


  14. Rachel Leavitt

    February 14, 2009

    I’ve never really given it much thought except now that I have kids I love to make them valentines. You see, to me it has become a day to remind me of the loves of my lives…my family. We’ll make cards together and I’ve made them each a special card this year where I tell them what I admire in them. We don’t do the presents or candies thing. I just like to see their faces light up when they know that I love them. Of course, it doesn’t take a special day of the year to do this, but it’s a good reminder. Rachel

  15. mormonhermitmom

    February 14, 2009

    AMEN! Too much pressure thank you very much.

  16. Heather H.

    February 14, 2009

    Happy Valentine’s Day Justine. I love you!

  17. Leslie

    February 14, 2009

    I love valenitnes day- A day about love thats a holiday I can get into- while I am anti v-day flowers- I love any excuse for chocolate & the color red! We do the 14 days of valentiens every year- nice little things each day for the first 2 weeks of valentines- it’s a good reminder to me to go out of my way to do more nice things for the peopel I love. I was always bitter going through jr high and hs boyfriend less at valentines day – no flowers, no candies- just a big loser!
    this year my husband gave me a new kitchen faucet- cause nothing to me is as romantic as practicality and a nice looking kitchen!

  18. Kay

    February 14, 2009

    Speaking as someone who never had a single valentine in her life until she met her husband, I LOVE IT !!!!!!!!!

  19. Justine

    February 14, 2009

    I do love that you all love it. And I know that there just isn’t one right way to feel about this day, even from within the same person.

    My kids love it, and have had a great week of parties. We took conversation heart boxes and turned them into iPods by covering them with pink construction paper and adding peanut butter cups on some string as earphones. We made over 100 of them for all the kids classmates. That part was totally fun. And it’s been snowing ALL DAY, which has made me happier than just about anything in the world.

    So it’s still been a great day. love you guys.

  20. Jennie

    February 14, 2009

    It’s all about my love. . .

    for CANDY!

    I go hog wild! There’s just a big dead spot in between Christmas stockings and Easter baskets. So I indulge heartily.

    My husband is super sweet and thoughtful and gives me gifts all the time (don’t be too jealous because he’s pretty high-maintenance the rest of the time) so Valentines Day is pretty redundant for me.

  21. Angie

    February 14, 2009

    I enjoy holidays–having seasonal traditions to anticipate is fun for me. I don’t get uptight about it. V Day is not the measure of my husband’s love for me–more like an excuse to eat some extra chocolate. I also like spontaneous fun and loving stuff throughout the year. I don’t think it has to be either/or.

  22. Lorie

    February 14, 2009

    We love Valentine’s Day in our house, but not in the romantic form. It is a big family affair. A day that we make heart shaped pancakes together as a family and write each other love notes!

    I love any excuse to cut things out with a heart shaped cookie cutter!

  23. she-bop

    February 14, 2009

    I loved Valentine’s growing up – but then I had a mom who did the whole cupid thing…new outfit, candy, etc. on the doorstep and she’d ring the doorbell and run. We always made heart cookies and it was one of the few sugar days we got so we really looked forward to it.

    Fast forward to college. Expectations were high. And….nothing. I was so sad. When I was dating who would become my hubbie, he did nothing for Valentine’s…and I was furious. I actually thought that there was no way I could marry a man who completely didn’t know about Cupid. duh. I cried, he was sorry, then I was so sorry for making such a big deal out of it. How was I to know not every mom was silly like mine? I truly thought Valentine’s was bigger than Easter, and it’s dumb bunny.

    Forward another year, and we got engaged on Valentine’s. He said it was probably the only Valentine’s he’d remember. And that’s okay with me.

    Since that time I have forbidden him from worrying about it. I just don’t care. And yet, here I am, following in my mother’s footsteps – being Cupid and all for my kids. I guess before they leave and marry I’d better warn them that it’s not a big sugar, love holiday for everyone.

    I still love it though. Come on, what’s not to love about LOVE?

  24. jendoop

    February 14, 2009

    You’re preachin’ to the choir sister! Even if it is just you and I in the choir. I don’t like pink, hearts are not really that shape and DH and I have sworn off ever going out on this day because it is insane! He feels obligated to get flowers and chocolates every year which I greatly enjoy but I hate the social expectation. He refuses gifts from me. This Valentines he spent the morning in the ER with me and a horrid virus. Ah, love.

    My exception? My children. I love to do all those special cheesy over the top labor intensive time wasting things for them. Chronic illness changes things and gratefully I had a prompting to get a few things for them three weeks ago when I did feel well. But no pink heart shaped pancakes or home decorated with hearts this year, probably not next year either.

  25. Brenda

    February 14, 2009

    Amen! I feel exactly the same way. Same scenario in HS and college…just a day to remind me that I wasn’t dating anyone. And now that I’ve been married 13 years, I don’t need this holiday or a greeting card to remind me of the love I share with my husband. If he gets me a V-day card, I know it’s a formality. I prefer the gifts or cards be more spontaneous and random.

  26. Sue

    February 14, 2009

    The thing is it’s not about love – at least not in my neighborhood. It’s about doing crafty crap – the aforementioned “red hearts, decorated boxes, cookies” and all of that stuff. It’s about buying a special Valentines Day themed outfit and ribbons for your little girl to wear to school, so that she won’t be a dreary social pariah. It’s about buying all kinds of things for class parties.

    If you enjoy that stuff, and that’s your thing – then I’m sure the holiday is all kinds of fun. For me it’s stress inducing.

    I wouldn’t object to V day at all if it weren’t for all of the expectations. My kids came home with an almost Halloween like haul this year – my daughter got 27 valentines – ALL with candy or some kind of toy/prize attached. Every single one of them. Except ours. I didn’t REALIZE it was Halloween, so I didn’t follow suit. I thought the drinks, cups, napkins, plates, soft drinks and cookies I had to buy for various class parties was enough. WRONG. There is something wrong with feeling like you aren’t a good mom if you aren’t prepared to spend upwards of seventy bucks to give your kids a good holiday. (I mean, really, add it up – valentines for three kids, candy, class party supplies, treats from mom and dad for valentines day – even the crafty stuff costs money, unless you happen to have a fully stocked craft cabinet – AND I DON’T.)

    So yeah – I’m definitely on the done with Valentines day side. I’m definitely on the “sick of over commercializing every holiday and making our kids expect that every day should be Christmas or else we don’t love them enough” side.

    And as others have said – I write notes to my kids all the time. I hug them all the time. I tell them I love them all day long and every night. I don’t need V day for that. I don’t need V day in order to think about someone other than myself, or to think about love. You don’t have to express love with stuff, and it seems like lately that’s exactly what this holiday is all about.

    Man. I guess I had a lot to say. Besides what I already said on my blog. Sorry.

  27. Zina

    February 15, 2009

    I’m squarely in the loves-Valentine’s-Day camp. But as I said on Sue’s blog, I’m more of a Grinch (sometimes, and in some ways) about Christmas, and I think it comes down to the fact that I don’t feel ANY obligations about Valentine’s Day, whereas, with, for example, Christmas, I would feel really bad if I didn’t pull of a decent Christmas, but at the same time I resent how it seems to take over all my free time for 1/12th of a year. With Valentine’s Day I’m happy if my husband brings me Costco roses, and if I get a chance to buy him a box of See’s I will (this year I’m on semi-bedrest and it just wasn’t going to happen) and we try to go out on a dinner date. (And yes that is MUCH harder to do in Utah Valley than it ever was when we lived in the California Bay Area, but I do appreciate having a local culture that celebrates courtship — even if it means you have to wait a *long* time for a table on Valentine’s weekend.) As for the kids, I never sign up to help with their class parties (but I might if I’m less swamped/don’t have toddlers at home in future years) and I feel no guilt about leaving that job to people who want to do it and enjoy doing it. I like making homemade Valentines for my family and making sugar cookies, but I don’t always get around to either. I buy the kids each a bag of candy for their classes and a box of Valentines (except this year they made their own and printed them at home) and that’s it.

    I think my love of Valentine’s Day goes back to my mom having made it a family holiday, and in high school and college I absolutely refused to be bitter if I didn’t have a romantic interest on that day — instead I focused on making cards or dessert for my family or friends. Also, quite a few years ago my mom and I both purchased batches of vintage Valentine cards at a thrift shop, and since then her collection has grown huge and amazing. They are great fun, full of strange or adorable illustrations and cute or awful puns, and I’m sure her collection also adds to my nostalgia.

    Oh, and I can never resist the cute $4 or $5 Valentine t-shirts at Target, so my daughters have more than one apiece (in fact I think my older daughter has about four) but they do wear them year-round.

    Anyway, it appears that whether we love or hate a holiday depends a lot on expectations, traditions, etc. And, like I said, I love Valentine’s Day even though I rarely manage to actually do much to celebrate it. In fact, today I made my family do chores all day to try to get ready for our new baby who’s due in 3 weeks, and around 5 o’clock somebody mentioned it being Valentine’s Day and my 8-year old daughter said, “I thought yesterday was Valentine’s Day,” which I jumped on: “Today is the true day of the holiday, but, yes, yesterday is when we *observed* Valentine’s Day.”

  28. m&m

    February 15, 2009

    As it turned out, how could I not enjoy a day where hubby got up, took the children to multiple local activities so I could sleep, came home with a rose, mint chocolate truffles, and a gift certificate from a bookstore?

    I have felt really lousy lately, so I wasn’t sure what I would be able to do, but ended up having some fun with dinner…angel hair with red sauce (easy), garlic bread (bread will always, always make my family happy), pink milk.

    And then I introduced them to chocolate fondue (the simplest recipe ever…choc chips with a little butter and canned evaporated milk). They ended up not liking how dark the chocolate was (I’m so not the one to figure that one out as I love dark chocolate), but they still felt the love, I think. They had a little fun memory.

    So in the end, I actually had a fun day in spite of myself.

    As for the school stuff, I say bah humbug on the overthetop stuff, and make that ok! I think it’s important to help kids understand that you can keep it simple (and inexpensive) and still have fun. I grabbed some stuff I already had on hand for my station and let them make cards. They loved it, and it cost me nearly nothing in time or money.

    As for my own kids, I have taken the approach of using holidays to stock them up on things they need. I got shirts on a recent shopping trip for $3 a piece…I’ll spread them out over a few holidays…a couple for v-day, a couple for Easter…they can have some fun and feel like something happened without it being a huge deal.

  29. anonymous chicken

    February 15, 2009

    I like V-day (mostly)

    But Sue,
    man, I do feel for you: crafts, ribbons, Halloween-like haul of candy, and the general over-the-top-ednous {it’s my comment, I’ll make words up if I want to…}

    I have one thing to say to you:

    you live in happy Valley.

    It’s just what happens when a large concentration of Mormons lives in a geographic location.
    (I grew up in such a place and its hard not to get grinchy about the one-up-manship that goes on.)

    Oh– we Mormons,
    always trying so hard to be perfect.
    Or at least trying to get people to think we are…


    (I hope you had a good day in spite of it all.)

  30. Zina

    February 15, 2009

    In case anyone wants any help getting into the spirit of Valentine’s Day (for next year, anyway,) I can’t resist sharing this this little story. That’s a link to a post on my blog, and it really might be the cutest thing you read today.

  31. wendy

    February 15, 2009

    I don’t mind it, and I like trying to make it a little special with food. Heart shaped pancakes didn’t happen this year, but the blood oranges made a fantastic shade of read juice.

  32. Justine

    February 15, 2009

    seriously zina, that was the cutest thing ever. I’m so glad you shared that story!

  33. m&m (other Michelle L)

    February 16, 2009

    zina, it actually brought tears to my eyes.

    “…as a little child….”

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