Some Do’s and Don’t of Valentine’s Day

Wow, is it me or have we been bombarded with a whole lot of Valentine’s Day pressure? It seems every radio station, website, on-line newspaper and side bar has something I should do for my sweetie on Valentine’s Day. I feel pushed and pulled in every direction! Flowers? Candy? Lingerie? A romantic dinner? All of them–or none of them? Do we really need all this stuff and one designated day for love declaration or is all the hype a subversive plot to feed a commercialized industry to spend money!
What a dilemma.
Therefore I did a little research and am happy to report that I feel much less frantic and stressed-out right now. As a well-informed person on navigating the pitfalls and hazards of the day, I’m also pleased to pass on some vital information because as you can see, there’s not much time left, you’re not in panic mode yet.

A little background:

Patron saint of plague victims

St. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, the plague, epilepsy and fainting. Celebrated in 496 A.D. by Pope Gelasius as one of the early Christian martyrs, it wasn’t until the mid-fifteenth century when Chaucer linked him to romance. From there on, it’s impossible to not associate him with passion, adoration, devotion and/or attachment. It was only a matter of time before the greeting card companies cashed in. It is approximately a 9.5 billion dollar revenue cash cow. By all the hype, it’s quite clear we work very hard to demonstrate our love and devotion and are willing to spend a lot of cash expressing those sentiments.

I shouldn’t blame the card and candy companies for raising the guilt bar on Valentine’s Day, the societal harassment started for most of us in grade school–Valentine’s cards for everyone in the classroom. We made little heart-shaped mailboxes to hang off the ends of our desks and the Room Mother made cup cakes with pink frosting for snack. Things were pretty much the same for both of my sons who are 10 years apart, except there were warnings sent home that if cards were given out, EVERYONE had to get a card and that NONE of the snacks could have nuts.
This was my favorite Valentine’s card:

Batman, you are so cool!

But I think I would have spent some time in the office with a re-adjustment therapist if I gave these out today.

Why then is there a growing undercurrent against Valentine’s Day? Could it be that it’s in a holiday trough in the middle of the winter that makes it a high pressure day? Or is it because it’s difficult if not painful to navigate a day designated specifically for love when a large percentage of people don’t have what it seems everyone is selling? There’s nothing wrong with promoting romance unless it makes you feel like you’re the only one who can’t celebrate–then it’s a day that totally sucks.

It’s not just single people who suffer, there are plenty of poor saps who give the wrong thing, get the wrong thing, send the wrong message or have absolutely no idea what to do. This is where I think I can help but let me tell you, the later it gets, the more you’ll pay and the crappier your gift. The best I can tell you is this: do not wait until the 10:00 booty call to stop at the Quickie Mart for a gift…it’s not going to get you what you want. And your Valentine is better than that.

Candy: Chocolates are best. Customized chocolates should have been ordered in January at the latest so the heart-shaped box of Russell Stover’s Chocolates at Walgreens will do. If it’s after 6:00, you’re either stuck with the $1.99 4-piece box or the $39.99 50-piece box. Get the $39.99 one, it’s not a choice. Oh, and whatever you do, NEVER BUY SUGAR FREE CHOCOLATE. It’s a laxative.

Ummmmmmm, no, stick with chocolate.

Card: Walgreen’s might have the best choice on Valentine’s Day and lucky you if you’re there for the heart-shaped chocolate box. Forget about the Hallmark store, it’s totally played out by now and you’ll be stuck with “To My Sweet Great Aunt” or “For a Fun Tumbling Step-Son on Valentine’s Day!”. If worse comes to worse, get some heart stickers and a red marker and make a card(make sure you write something really good)–you won’t believe the leeway that gets you because it’s handmade!

If this is your best choice, go for the hand-made card

Flowers: Forget it. Too expensive and they’ll be dead before you get to the front door. There’s no fresh flower on the planet on Valentine’s Day. Don’t even think of a crystal flower, silk flowers or duct-tape flowers–it’s a deal-breaker if you do.

This is what your $75.00 bouquet that you bought at 4:00 p.m. on 2/14 looks like at 7:00 a.m. on 2/15

Fragrance: I strongly advise against it for the following excellent reasons: You’re probably in Walgreens, Walmart, CVS or, if it’s really late, the Quickie Mart. You don’t want to be smelling the stink of what they sell for perfume or colongne for months or even years from now. It will bring bile to the back of your throat every time you get within 10 feet of your sweetie. You’ll have no choice but to break up. It’s a really bad gift but it might be what you deserve for putting things off for so long.

Don't do it! You'll regret it!

Wine: Not a bad idea. It certainly leads the way to romance. Make sure it has a cork. now is not the time to convince ANYONE that screw-top wines are as good as corked! Make sure you scrape the price tag off before you present it.

Pick a label with some art on it.

Lingerie and Unmentionables: Iffy. Again, it’s like the flower situation–those who planned ahead had a variety of lovely things to choose from. You’re probably scraping the bottom of a sale bin in a closing mall. Whatever you do, make sure you’ve got the right size–buying lingerie that’s marked Large for women or Small for men is insulting. Last thought on this tricky subject: Hoody-footie pajamas or Snugglies are the nail in the coffin as a romantic gift. You couldn’t be more explicit if you rented a sign saying, “I really want you to be covered-up from head-to-toe on the most romantic day of the year!”

A Snuggie says "You're flying solo Valentine's night"

Dinner: Let your honey know that the best part of the night will be the two-hour wait at the bar with him/her, try not to say it’s because you haven’t made reservations. That should help things a little. If your acting skills aren’t that good, there’s nothing wrong with a home-made dinner–just make sure to set the mood with candles, the wine and some nice music. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, just a few notches above ramen noodles or frozen dinner. Oh, it might not be the night to roll out your Beef’n’Sauerkraut but I’m sure you could improvise something worthwhile.


And there it is, lovies! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Addendum: Updates on my fact-checking–this NPR link makes the stressors of today’s Valentine’s Day seem like a walk in the park! Imagine–animal sacrifice, drunken debauchery, lining up to get whipped and lottery coupling? Also, forgive my on my cash-cow shortage of about 8 to 10 billion. May not be the best time to tout my Accounting skills…


About EF Sweetman

bees, baseball, beverly, ma, culture, manners, society, writing
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6 Responses to Some Do’s and Don’t of Valentine’s Day

  1. trowbridgemarvin1949 says:

    Lasting relationships are no accident:

  2. I would love that card. I’m singing the Golden Girls theme right now. “And if you had a party…”

  3. KellsBells says:

    Agree with most of your advice to the lovelorn, Liz, except the part about the screw top wine (and not just ’cause I’m a lush who can’t wait to get that bottle open). There are some very good quality wines out there with a screw top. And I don’t care how much you party for a cork — if it’s gone skunky, it was too much!

    Now quit yackin’ & pass the spirits.

    • EF Sweetman says:

      Kudos to you to pull it off Kells, if you gave me that line of thought I wouldn’t pout–except that I like the corks for my bees to float on. Let me just get out the dixie cups and screw off that cap as fast as I can! Thanks and Happy xoxoxo

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