Valentine’s Day is probably my least favorite holiday.
I have long considered it as just some fictious day created to sell chocolates and greeting cards.
In fact, it is one I don’t really consider a real holiday despite the hype telling me otherwise.
Maybe it was because this day was not one that gave me fond memories as a child.
While other kids eagerly made little containers bedecked with hearts to collect love notes and boxes of conversation hearts from their classmates, I was trying to come up with a way to miss school.
I was willing to risk a trip to the doctor, even if it meant missing out on heavily sprinkled heart-shaped sugar cookies. That’s how bad I hated this day; I would miss out on cookies.
I would place my little Kleenex box wrapped in pink construction paper with red hearts on my desk and wait.
And wait. And wait.
For my classmates to come put a little folded card in my box.
All of my friends had theirs overflowing with cards within seconds.
Mine only had a few.
They all were from my female classmates – none of the boys asked me to be their Valentine.
I was crushed. I didn’t expect anyone to make some grand gesture of love – I think I was only in second grade – but it would have been nice to be asked to be someone’s Valentine.
This pattern repeated itself all the way to middle school, and then, the real horrors began: flower delivery at school.
With just an advancement in grade level, February 14th had expanded from a small cardboard card disappointment to a grand display of unlovedness.
I would watch one by one as friends were called to the office to pick up big vases of red roses.
How were these kids affording roses if they didn’t have a job?
It made the day even more heartbreaking, as I was usually the only one without any symbols or trappings of the day.
High school was even worse.
Some of my friends were going on dates.
“It’s not a real holiday,” Mama would comfort me.
I knew it wasn’t, but it still kind of stung.
“Your granddaddy got you a big heart of chocolate, don’t that count?” Granny would ask.
It did count; Pop was my best guy. But one eventually wants someone else to think they are special outside of family on Valentine’s Day.
“I hate this day,” I muttered. “I can’t believe it is still celebrated. It has to be the craziest holiday ever.”
“No, Columbus Day is maybe worst,” Granny said.
“Yes,” she said. “Columbus Day. At least on Valentine’s Day, the banks are open and the mail runs. On Columbus Day, all you get a dadblamed mattress sale. How often you gonna need to buy a mattress.”
She had a point.
“I’d take Valentine’s over that any day,” she added.
Of course, Granny would. She had Pop, and while he was not the roses or gigantic card kind of guy, he was known to go out as soon as the stores opened to get the biggest heart-shaped boxes of candy the stores carried for Granny and me.
My loathing for Valentine’s Day has carried into my adult life, with the day seemingly getting more obnoxious with each year.
And, then I had a child and was forced to face the aisles covered with pink and red hearts.
I was urged by him to get at least two boxes to make sure there was plenty of cards and they would be appropriate. He wanted the day of love to be fair and full of harmony.
Instead of having a repeat of my grade school days, teachers now send home a class list, so no one is left out.
My child took Valentine’s Day very seriously when he was smaller. I hoped, deeply, sincerely, that now that he was in middle school this holiday would be ignored.
In many ways, it is. There are no little
cards to address and fold, nor sticking suckers into the little tabs, or
bedazzling a Kleenex box for a Valentine container.
And somehow, I found myself missing it.
Maybe the day I had always loathed became the day I tolerated a little bit better.
But Columbus Day, complete with its mattress sales and bank closings, is on its way to the top position.