I was aware of valentines day from a very young age. At primary school you could become the most popular kid in the year if you had a valentine. Looking back, it’s slightly weird encouraging little kids to declare their love for each other with cards. I wasn’t one of those kids though, I was the one who got a sympathy valentines card from my parents.
By the time I started dating my now boyfriend I knew that valentines day was nothing more than consumerism disguised as a historical celebration. But, having never experienced getting a card (in the conventional way), I still wanted that experience, just once. I don’t care about being showered with gifts or taken out for a fancy meal – to me, this is not how you show someone you love them.
There are now have alternate days like Galentines (thank you Leslie Knope) and Palentines; alternatives that I wish had been around when I was struggling with my single-dom in my late teens and early twenties. I grew up in the last of the era of rom-coms, where love will save you. The nature of loving yourself first, before loving someone else was generally unheard of. Media still define women by the relationships they have had or are in, but there were few female role models out there who celebrated personal achievements before love.
Being as I personally know how crap valentines day can make you feel, I think it’s one that’s better to avoid. Avoid in the traditional sense of tacky/expensive gifts. There are no public declarations of love. Instead we sit next to each other on the sofa like an old married couple – him reading and me typing away – occasionally we hold hands and it feels like bliss. I look forward to the evening, for the weekly family zoom, where as we catch up from miles apart, it brings us closers and fills us with love for one another. Because love shouldn’t just be about romance.
Why do we confine love to one day of the year? When love is so much bigger than one day or one person.