I feel as though no sooner than the tinsel and baubles are taken down, the hearts and heart-shaped bunting is being put in its place in preparation for the oh-so consumerist event that is St. Valentine’s Day.
Actually, I can attest to seeing an employee in Clinton Cards stocking valentine’s gifts in the week leading up to Christmas. These days, we aren’t even left to enjoy one event before another is being shoved down our throats.
You’re literally assaulted with advertising in January and early February; coerced by advertisers/societal conventions from all angles; stop by the card shop and pick up a £5 card (don’t forget the wrapping paper and bow). Buy your special love some jewellery/smellies/theatre tickets/an experience just so you can be sure they know you really love them. Go to the underwear shop and get some fancy underwear for a ‘fun night in’. Don’t forget to order the dozen roses. You do love your significant other, don’t you? Well, then, buy the roses. Be sure to ring the restaurant well in advance to get a reservation, so you can sit in an incredibly cramped restaurant, sharing your valentine’s evening with 50 other couples, eating an overpriced, poor quality, prix fixe menu. Book a romantic weekend break to show your true love just how special they are to you. And don’t forget the champagne and strawberries in the room on arrival and the romantic couples massage.
It doesn’t just end with advertisers though. Family/friends/colleagues asking in the run up to the day and the day itself,
“What are your plans for Valentine’s this year?”
“Doing anything special for Valentine’s?”
“What did you get for Valentine’s?”
“Oooh, he must be in the doghouse if he didn’t get you anything this year!”
No matter how many times I tell people we don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, I still get asked every year what we are doing. Maybe they forget we don’t celebrate or maybe it’s just societal convention that means they feel they have to ask. And then it’s just awkward when I say we’re doing nothing.
It hasn’t always been this way. Early on in our relationship, when we were bright eyed and bushy tailed teenagers, we used to exchange cards and a small present. Even then we were careful with money and generally only spent £20 on each other. It was fine. But I didn’t feel special or more loved because I got a card and a present on the 14th February.
Over the years, I’ve become more cynical and my dislike of consumerism has grown exponentially. Why should I spend my money the way I’m told to by advertisers?
So, quite a few years back now, I told Mr. NC I didn’t think we needed to be spending money or celebrating Valentine’s Day. He was indifferent, he didn’t mind celebrating but was happy to stop. We don’t love each other any less because we don’t swap expensive gifts on the 14th February.
My husband is my most favourite person in the world. He has made my life so incredibly happy – more happy than I ever imagined. And we don’t have a less loving, unhappy relationship because we don’t celebrate our love on a specific day. Love should be celebrated everyday. Yes, some days are more special than others – our wedding anniversary and the day we got together are two examples. But we tell each other we love each other everyday and we are constantly doing extra special little things for each other, just because.
“Don’t wait until a special occasion to show the people in your life you love them– say the words and show it in your actions every day.”
— The Minimalists
Amen to that.