Sunday, February 14, 2010


It's Valentines Day, and for weeks the sellers of candy, flowers and jewelery have been reminding us to show our loved ones how much we care by buying them stuff. Even though I hardly watch any television, I think I've probably seen a hundred sappy jewelry store ads this month, all of which my kids and I have mocked terribly. It's hard not to make fun of the syrupy sweet version of love depicted this time of year. Even though we rotate between laughing at and gagging over mushy romance, I really don't mean to sound cynical, or to pass my cynicism on to my kids. I believe in love, and enjoy a little romance myself. But what is love really about?

We Americans are brought up on a lot of myths of love, and I think it makes relationships more confusing and difficult. The happily ever after stories of childhood turn into the overly dramatic and constantly changing relationships on TV, and Neither of these extremes are healthy or realistic. Rarely does a charming prince come save the day so the couple can live happily ever after. Equally rarely do reality television shows, sit coms or popular dramas portray healthy long term relationships.

The sad thing is that I don't think many people have actually had healthy role models of loving, lasting relationships to learn from in real life. Those who have are lucky. I'd guess a lot of people are just winging it, and basing attempts at relationships and happiness on media stereotypes. That probably leaves a lot of disappointed and / or divorced people.

The reality is that no relationship is happy all the time, and the grass isn't always greener somewhere else either. Rather than being dependent on someone else to feel complete, knowing how to be happy alone or together probably helps too. Buying jewelery is great, but it can't replace being nice, and showing respect on a regular basis.

A few disappointing Valentines Days in my life may have added to my natural cynicism, and increased my mockery of this holiday of romance. One favorite memory is of a year when I was a teenager recovering from a recent breakup, I wrote a letter to a friend about the woes of VD. Her mom found the letter, and was very upset, mistakenly thinking VD was referring to venereal disease rather than Valentines Day. That still makes me smile, and in perspective, made my single, heartbroken teenage Valentines Day not look so bad- at least there were no diseases involved.

I have also had plenty of Valentines Days that were wonderful, and made me think, and probably act, like a silly, romantic pre-teen girl. On good years, my dear husband has treated me to romantic cabins in the snowy mountains, rooms overlooking the ocean, candlelit dinners, flowers, and even jewelery. Of course, since I accidentally sucked up one of the diamond earrings he bought me with a vacuum, I have not been given jewelery again. Maybe that's why I mock the jewelry commercials- because I know my jewelery days are over due to my terrible housekeeping. At least I still get chocolate.

This year for Valentines Day, we sent the kids to their great Grandmothers, and had a long walk in the woods, a delicious steak and shrimp dinner, a few too many daiquiris, some good adult conversation, and watched a few movies the kids would not be allowed to see. Grown up time is a good thing. I really think we need to do this more often. It's no jewelery commercial, but it is enough to help keep the flames from being smothered anyway.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentines Day. Whether it's full of flowers, candy, and jewels or not, hopefully, it will be full of love. I'd love to hear how others celebrated with their loved ones this year.