How to Survive Valentine’s Day: Forget the Gifts – Raina Kelley


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Ditch the Flowers and Diamonds

Why everything you think about Valentine’s Day is wrong.

Feb 11, 2010

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Valentine’s Day is stupid. I don’t care what gender you are or how romantic, everybody is either stressed out or offended by Feb. 14. Seriously, just think about it for a minute—if you are in a relationship, you are obligated to show your love through flowers, candy, and canned romance or risk being labeled a crank, a grump, or worse. If you’re not in a relationship, you’re made to feel bereft or relieved. Not to mention that it’s scheduled right at the moment you’ve finally dug out from all those Christmas and Chanakah bills, so the minute you have money, it’s gift-giving time again.

Why do we put up with this state of affairs? I love giving presents and I have never, regretfully, turned away candy. But it’s hard to put a lot of thought into a day that most men think has been pushed upon them for the express purpose of getting them into trouble. Every year my husband loudly panics about what to get me for Valentine’s Day. As if I am actually going to use my gifts to measure his love for me and how it changes from year to year. I don’t know where this pressure comes from … oh, wait, I do! Every channel is chock full of commercials showing men tenderly wrapping their wives into their arms and expressing their undying love with heart-shaped diamonds and home-cooked soufflés. You can’t escape it—DVR doesn’t help, it’s just the same Zales commercials at a faster speed. But jewelry is no good as a V-Day present anymore and deep down everybody knows it. Thanks to Tiger, Kobe, and all the other cheaters out there who think diamonds are the way to redemption, a little blue box now screams: “I’m obsessively cheating on you.” Or, even worse: “I think you’re one of those women whose love can be bought with jewelry.”

And don’t even get me started on flowers. Cut flowers are bad for the environment. Potted flowers are a waste of money unless you have a greenhouse or live in Hawaii, especially this February when even the South is getting blizzards. And here’s a news flash … most women don’t like to get flowers delivered to the office … it’s too showy, too girly, and sends a weird message that goes a bit like this: “I’m obsessively cheating on you but here are some flowers to make the people at work think we’re like those people in the diamond commercials who can be bought with overpriced roses that are killing the planet.”

But I’m a fixer and I have the solution to putting the zing back into Valentine’s Day. (I fixed Black History Month last week and Mother’s Day last year so don’t doubt me.) The trick to an amazing Feb. 14 is escapism. In the early stages of a relationship, mystery and sex are the glue that holds you together until you get to know each another. It’s an exciting time when you’re not quite sure what you’re getting yourself into but you really like it. That’s the feeling people want for Valentine’s Day—not a book or pink earrings. Anything that brings that excitement, those goosebumps, back counts as success. For me, the best V-Day is 24 hours where I feel like a girlfriend instead of a wife. I want to be swept away into nostalgia. Everybody is different, but for me, the perfect celebration would be a night at Mohegan Sun  playing craps and pretending I’m Sharon Stone’s character from Casino. It’s the ideal place to eat dessert first and go get a steak at 3 in the morning. I can dress up and walk around without a purse and drink sidecars. It’s an evening to be (until we pick up the baby from his grandparents’ the next morning, that is) the kind of people who drink champagne in the bathtub. But that’s just me—another woman might want a weekend in Miami or a sky-diving lesson. It actually doesn’t matter what you do as long as it evokes that frisson of romance and endless love at the heart of every relationship. I know a couple who are just going for a walk in the snow. It’s free and there won’t be a single flower around but it’s what they did when they first met and it reconnects them with why they’re together now.

And while I’m not going to talk about sex in too much detail since my biggest fan is my mother, let me just say this: make out the way you did when you were teenagers (only not in public, I hate that). It’ll create all kinds of chemistry and give you a dopamine boost. Most important, it’ll keep your mind off the fact that between work and toddlers and grocery shopping, sex is harder to schedule than a haircut with Ken Paves.

John Lennon wrote that “Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.” That’s what I’m talking about. So throw away the treacly cards and the candy and forget about the jewelry store. Ignore the pressure to do what everybody else is doing and stop treating Valentine’s Day like any other gift-giving day. Give goosebumps and dopamine instead. Trust me, it’ll work.

© 2010

Hey! I just asked Aardvark (http://vark.com) “how can I suprise my wife for Valentine’s Day?” !!!

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