Celebrate Valentine's Day Another Way... ANY OTHER WAY
We've faced it every year, and every year, regardless of our relationship status, we have to face it again: Valentine's Day is difficult. I mean, who are the people who truly enjoy Valentine's Day, really? The florists? The card companies? Because if I happen to be single on Valentine's day, there is that moment every year of being next to the person who is getting a hundred roses and balloons delivered at their desk, and thinking, for maybe one wishful and delusional moment, that maybe I could have had a secret admirer all this time? With really bad taste in flower arrangements?
But even being with somebody as Valentine's Day approaches unearths its own set of anxieties. Questions of: how together are we, like, together enough to get each other a cute card and laugh about how stupid this holiday is and how we both agree to not celebrate it? Or together like, buying each other gifts and wearing tights and a nice dress to a fancy restaurant in town where we awkwardly laugh over candle light? Or the kind of "together" where, as Valentine's Day approaches, we drop all contact with said person and pick up safely again on February 15, with a casual so hey how was your weekend text?
So if you, like me, want to do away with all of that anxiety, regardless of your relationship status, here are some relaxed, alternative ideas for how to spend your Valentine's Day:
1. Go golfing.
I'm serious. This sounds really strange at first, especially if, like me, you've never golfed (YET!). But golfing seems like the exact opposite of what a typical stressful Valentine's Day might be like. Go with some platonic, tam o' shanter-loving friends, learn the rules of a new game together, rent one of those cool golf carts that are really fun to drive so if none of you are any good at the game you can just drive around the beautiful grounds in a golf cart together. Unleash all your anxiety and anger on whacking those tiny golf balls. The worst that could happen is you spend a day doing something you've never done before, the best that could happen is you discover your inner Tiger Woods. Or pick any another sport/activity that gets you out of your comfort zone, that you've always seen but never really done before. Paintballing? A game of pool? Tennis?
2. Write a lot of little love letters.
But not to who you expect. Buy or make your own cute stationary that has nothing to do with red and pink hearts. Sit down at your letter writing station and think of the people who you have really loved—platonically. Your teacher in the sixth grade who you think about thanking all the time but never do. Your mom, duh. Your older brother, your cousin who is like your best friend, your actual best friend. Think about them with the attention you afford to your crush, and write them a letter to thank them for who they are and what they mean to you. Romantic love is just one kind of love—there are so many other loves out there that are worth honoring, so why not transform your Valentine's Day into reflecting on all the other loves that populate your heart.
3. Don't wait for a flower arrangement to be delivered to you; go out and pick your own bouquet.
When I was a kid I loved making a cone out of an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, taping it to make it function like a vase, and going out into my neighborhood to pick my own bouquet. Now I love buying flowers for myself. But if you wanted not only to give yourself the gift of flowers, but also to spend no money and spend some time instead, go out into the world with a pocket knife and a home-made paper cone to place your flowers in. (Stick to wildflowers that are not particularly anybody's property so you don't ruin someone else's Valentine's Day by destroying their garden.) You'll be amazed by the way you begin to notice colors that go together in nature, by the flowers you can slowly find. And by how much choice you have in the way a bouquet appears. Remember to be careful of bugs that crawl out of the flowers, unless you find them a charming accent! When you're home, after even an hour's worth of walking, you'll have a lovely bouquet that you can keep on your desk or at your kitchen table, long after Valentine's Day has passed.
4. Forget the possible lack of a love story of your life! Go to your nearest bookstore and buy yourself a book.
A date with yourself at the bookstore is quite possibly the best date you can have. So often it feels like the characters in books are more real and dear to us than our own friends, and that the love stories in books bring us to tears and put the efforts of our suitors to shame. I would so much rather read a well-written depiction of a relationship than have to sit through an awkward dinner conversation because I forced myself to not be alone on Valentine's Day. So go to your nearest bookstore with the intent of buying yourself a lovely, literary, moving depiction of what a "love story" can be. Whether it's Snape's "Always," or Tariq from A Thousand Splendid Suns saying, "You know (Laila), I only have eyes for you," or Mr. Darcy, arriving at last to say, "My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you," you can rest assured that the scenes and sentences in any of these books will be the perfect company.
5. Raincheck the day with your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend.
Fact: it is always fun to dress up and go celebrate your love with the one you love. But there is something about Valentine's Day that puts too much pressure on any relationship, regardless of how rock solid it may be. So why not decide with your boyfriend/girlfriend/best friend that you will raincheck "Valentine's Day". That way, when the day comes around, you hold in your heart the knowledge that every other fool can worry about wearing red and paying way too much money at a too fancy restaurant to feel like they had a good Valentine's Day. You'll be immune to the emotionally taxing holiday, because the best for you is yet to come. So what if you don't receive a dozen roses that you didn't even want (peonies or nothing!)? So what if you still haven't told your crush you love them? My boyfriend and I have never celebrated Valentine's Day. But about a week or two after February 14, we do love to put a night aside and get dressed up and go to a restaurant we don't often go to, and indulge in a meal and dessert we rarely allow ourselves. This turns something that could be a high stress situation (both of us thinking Am I doing Valentine's Day right?! How does one celebrate Valentine's Day right?!? Did I disappoint them? Am I disappointed myself??) into a really nice, fun night, where we do something special just because. And on that night, the restaurants are not so packed we needed to book a month in advance, there's no overpriced, themed prix fixe, and the tables around us are not surrounded with people on dates that we don't want to be around at all. Instead we are the only ones who are doing this, and we are doing it just for ourselves.
How do you feel about Valentine's Day? Would you try any of these alternates?