15 February 2014


So it was Valentine's Day yesterday. E. L. Bates of StarDance Press just posted a really great little story about it, how she had hurt herself, and her husband just took over and did small, unromantic, utterly loving things for her (like wash the dishes). That, people, is love. Never mind the chocolates and roses - although they're all good in their place, too; I'm very fond of chocolates and roses. But nothing says "Love" like the washing machine that got fixed (again), or the flood from the burst pipe in the basement which is cleaned up without a murmur, even though it's 2:00 AM and the person in question is sick with a cold.

Valentine's Day is all fine and dandy. I love celebrations, they're wonderful. But I think for the most part this particular special day has totally got out of hand. I saw an ad on an online bookseller's website last week, adjuring the site visitors to surprise their Valentine with a $150 newly-released tablet-style ebook reader. Say what?

And then, someone else pointed out that Valentine's Day is the day of year which most hammers home the singleness of those who are NOT in a romantic relationship, or, conversely, reminds those who are in a less-than-glamorous one of just how unfulfilled they are. I remember some years ago a single woman going on a trip to Mexico, and stating that since she didn't have a husband to take her on those kinds of trips, she had to take herself. She seemed to feel that she was in need of an excuse for doing that. At that point I had been married for about ten years, and the number of times my husband had taken me on a trip to a resort in a tropical location was, umm, rather small - to be precise, nil. But that didn't impact the quality of our relationship in the slightest, and it still hasn't.

See, Valentine's Day seems to be above all an occasion for feeding completely unrealistic ideas of what "Love" is all about. If you haven't got a man who gives you flowers, chocolates, expensive ebook reader tablets, and takes you out to dinner in a fancy restaurant or on a trip to the tropics, you're obviously missing out, you poor thing. Yes, that's me, too; I've been missing out for decades now. I even had to buy my own ebook reader a few years ago, and it wasn't even on Valentine's Day.

You know what we did for Valentine's yesterday? We didn't go out for dinner, because our usual Friday-night-date-location, the local pub, was having some kind of Valentine's party going on. Too much fuss for our tastes. So we stayed home with the people we love - our kids - had homemade pizza (which is very loved around here) and chocolate cake with raspberries and ice cream (more love), and watched The Princess Bride. Oh so romantic. We didn't even talk about the movie afterwards, but I'm sure our marriage won't suffer for that omission. We spent plenty of time during the movie tearing it to pieces, though; it's such an eminently mockable film. Great fun.

Love isn't about flowers, chocolates and ebook readers. It's not even about the romantic, sexual relationship between two adults. Of course, that's a really important part of it, and it's a part that ought to be celebrated, shouted from the rooftops. But it's not what the sellers of ebook tablets and confectionery would have us believe. Love looks very different from those glittering stereotypes we are presented with in the media. Love is about people - husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, friends.

Do I like romance? You bet I do. Dyed-in-the-wool romantic, that's me. And I like flowers and chocolates and romantic movies and dinner dates, too ("Aaaas yooooou wiiiiiiish!"). Lovey-dovey mush is the best thing ever (I'm a total sucker for weddings, for one). But I know that when it comes down to it, what matters is doing the dishes for the other person, and fixing that dryer, and baking them a pizza because that's their favourite. And picking up your socks because they've told you that it irritates them when you leave them lying about. That's Love, and that's what we need to celebrate on Valentine's Day.

Life, the Universe, and Valentine's Day. Mine was lovely - how about yours?


  1. I used to be anti-Valentine's Day, but over the years I've come to enjoy it as a day to celebrate the love we share 365 days a year. Not a "OK, here's the day we show appreciation (because we're obligated to) and then forget it the rest of the time," which is how it seems often done today. Same with Mother's Day and Father's Day. So I was able to enjoy the romantic gesture of flowers earlier in the day, and the unromantic gesture of him washing the dishes for me, equally.

    1. Exactly. The flowers take their real flavour (or scent?) from the ordinary unromantic everyday kind of acts of love. You can have happily have ordinary without flowers, but flowers without ordinary are meaningless.