There are a lot of people out there who hate Valentine’s Day. Most of them hate it, not because they actually hate V-Day, but rather because they hate how it reminds them that they don’t have someone special in their life to share it with. Other people hate Valentines Day because it’s too commercial, or because it’s a Hallmark holiday. What they mean, of course, is that they resent having to spend the money to buy something, or don’t like having to come up with something to do for Valentine Day.
For my wife and I, these are not the reasons we quit Valentine’s Day. We’ve been together now for longer than we were single. My wife has never been the type to sit back and wait for me to come up with something amazing to impress her. She likes to plan, and pitch in and come up with what we are doing. Then, she likes to savor knowing what we are going to be doing in a few days, weeks or months.
We also love holidays. A wise friend once told us, “Never pass up a reason to celebrate.” I think that’s good advice. I’m a 40-year old who seeks out multiple fireworks shows on the 4th of July, insists on a full turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, even if it’s just us, dresses up in green for St. Patrick’s Day even though I’m not the least bit Irish, and I put out a flag for Flag Day. Heck, I even have my own holidays:
- The CU v CSU football game on Labor Day weekend
- SuperBowl Sunday
- The Oscars Night
- First Day of School
- and several others.
The Straw That Broke Valentine’s Day Back
For the first decade of our relationship, we went along with Valentine’s Day. There were changes and agreements. She knows about money, and even cares about using it wisely more than I do. After a few years of fifty, sixty, or even seventy dollar bouquets of flowers, we put a stop to that. A smaller grocery store bouquet was allowed, but nothing bigger. After that, we would do special things, dinner, movies, hot air balloons, whatever, and then we’d exchange Valentine’s Day cards.
But, one year, something happened that changed it forever. For years, we had noticed the rampant price gouging that goes along with Valentines Day. Some of it is supply and demand, but much of it is not. Watch the price of a dozen roses at FTD during January, compared with the week before Valentine’s Day to see what I mean. It’s not just florists. Valentines Day cards seem to cost much more than regular cards. We avoided most of that, but it was still there in the back of our minds.
Then, on Valentine’s Day, we made a reservation at one of our favorite restaurants. When we showed up, they told us it was an hour wait. “But, we have a reservation,” we said. It didn’t matter. So did everyone else, or at least we assumed so. We realized that we were trapped. Anywhere else would have as long of wait or longer since we didn’t have a reservation there. We made the best of it and enjoyed each other’s company.
Then, when we were FINALLY seated, we got another rude shock. The menu, that we knew and loved, had been chopped down to just a couple of dishes, not including some of our favorites. Service was slow, the food was mediocre, and our night was far from magical.
Whether the restaurant was trying to make more money or just handle the volume, I don’t know. Either way, Valentine’s Day was not a great day, but rather the worst possible day to try and enjoy the company of your loved one anywhere other than at home. We realized the problem was that everyone was trying to have the same magical night in the same way. We don’t go camping on Memorial Day weekend for the same reason. When everyone is trying to make the same thing happen, no one gets it to happen. Some things are fun with crowds, having an intimate evening with your spouse is not one of them.
As we talked we realized that just going out to a nice restaurant on ANY OTHER DAY of our choosing would have been more fun. Flowers and cards would have been more meaningful on a day when not everyone else gets them. In other words, Valentine’s Day was less fun, more crowded and more expensive, and so we quit.
Every year, we hear people complain about V-Day, both those people who have someone, and those who don’t. We nod sympathetically, and if they ask (and ONLY if they ask) tell them about our arrangement. The ironic thing is that most people, both women and men agree with us, but for some reason they just can’t do what we do. Either they worry the other person won’t understand, or won’t stick to the no pact, or they just can’t stand to not be the only ones without something going on.
So, we quit Valentine’s Day. We’ve been happier on February 14th ever since.
But, tomorrow on the 15th, I’ll wander into the grocery store. I’ll grab a rose or some other small token. I’ll find my wife’s car wherever it is parked downtown, and I’ll leave it along with a little note on the driver’s seat. And, it will mean more than all the high-priced bouquets and limited dinners in crowded restaurants that everyone had the night before.