Valentine’s Day. A fake holiday that many fear and loathe. I am one of those people. If you want to know what’s tearing at the fabric of our society and breaking up families…it’s gotta be Hallmark. More than any other company, including Disney, Hallmark has sold women the story that if a man really, really loves us, he will buy us overpriced crap and take us out to a crowded, mediocre, overpriced restaurant on the 14th of every February.
I used to believe this. When we were first married I somehow clung to the myth that a card and box of chocolates was more meaningful than the sweet things my husband does for me every day. Well, most days. And don’t ever tell him I said that! Anyhoo, way back when we were newlyweds my dutiful husband made reservations at our then favorite Italian restaurant, Coco’s. Date night. February 14. At Coco’s…where overnight they had doubled the number of tables in the place, and replaced their regular menu with a specials menu that was jacked up 50% for the same old same old. Just the principle of it pissed me off. Plus, the tables were so close together that we learned way too much about the couples on either side of us. Yuck.
When we got home that evening, I shook my angry fist in the air (ala Scarlett O’Hara) and swore that we would never celebrate that miserable fake holiday again. Dan didn’t believe me at first. He was tentative the following year thinking I had set some kind of trap that was going to leave him sleeping in the guest room. But I stuck to my guns. We decided that our Valentine’s tradition would be ordering pizza and watching TV. Sure, it required little to no effort on either of our parts, but neither does a reservation and a box of crappy chocolates. In fact, the beauty of it was that it required little money and no effort. Because our daily reality was that we were happy and working hard and saving all our little pennies for silly stuff like a house. It turns out the bank does not accept little stuffed bears as collateral.
We have maintained our tradition and eaten pizza at home with the exception of one year, when we went to Paris in February. Romantic Valentine’s trip? Hardly! Do you know how much cheaper it is to go to Paris in February than in May? A lot. Back in those days, before the interwebs, we still used a travel agent, and he called and told us they had put together a romantic weekend in Paris; a Valentine’s getaway with champagne and strawberries and who knows what else. I asked him if we could just take the airfare and hotel special and skip the rest and boom! Our first trip to Paris. Channeling our good travel karma we ended up with sunny days and 60 degree weather; we skipped the pizza on Valentine’s Day but in the spirit of our tradition we had crepes and frites from food carts for dinner.
This year Dan and I will, tragically, spend Valentine’s Day apart. Dan will be holding down the fort while I am off to Chicago first thing in the morning, to see my nephew Sean’s stage production of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. If you have never read Cat’s Cradle, I suggest that you IMMEDIATELY download a copy and read it, twice, because it is an incredible book. I would like to add that it is neither about cats, nor cradles. Trust me, you will thank me for turning you on to it.
For whatever your Valentine’s tradition might be, including a tradition of not having a tradition, cheers. And just for fun, click below, and enjoy. Happy VD!!