I have to confess, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. As regular readers of this blog know, I love most holidays and jump at almost any excuse, however flimsy, for a celebration. But to me, Valentine’s Day has a forced feeling, even worse than the obligatory jollity of New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to shake the feeling that if Rich and I don’t manage to set new world records for glamour, intimacy, and passion, to say nothing of clothing, food, and wine, the evening – and, let’s face it, our entire relationship – is an abysmal failure. But no pressure.
It’s not that Rich and I aren’t romantic. Why, this is the man who gave me a compost tumbler one year for Christmas. We were living in Ohio at the time, diligently collecting our table scraps to provide nutrients for our vegetable garden. The previous owners had started a compost pile in the woods at the edge of our property, a short but bone-chilling hike in Cleveland’s long snow season, and I was thrilled to have an efficient new compost tumbler installed on my back doorstep. My sisters in California were appalled, but I was the envy of all our Ohio neighbors.
Then there was the time that I was annoyed with Rich about something – I have long since forgotten what – and expressed my opinion of the matter, and of him, rather freely and with an unbecoming frankness that ended with me stomping past him into the bedroom. And there I found, laid tenderly on my pillow, an envelope with a poem inside expressing, in the most charming and romantic words possible, the depths of his love for me. I remember in particular some comments on how he never tired of my sweet voice. I felt lower than the slimiest worm crawling about in our compost tumbler. Which of course, Rich found hilarious. The rat.
All in all, Rich and I prefer our romance to be spontaneous and heartfelt, and we don’t tend to make much of Valentine’s Day. It’s more of an action movie, beer, and potato chip kind of holiday with us. Singles I know go out to the movies, stay at home with a stack of library books, or plan other ways to pass the evening without setting foot in a restaurant, knowing they’ll all be filled with glittering couples holding hands and ordering more oysters and champagne. Last year I read an article by a woman who invites all her unmarried, divorced, separated, widowed, and celibate friends over for a long, wine-soaked pot-luck meal in celebration of fellowship. She wrote that it has now become one of her favorite nights of the year.
However you choose to spend February 14, I hope you’ll join me in resisting the efforts of Madison Avenue, Hollywood, the clothing industry, florists, jewelers, trendy restaurants, Godiva, and Hallmark to convince us all that this should be the most spectacular night in the history of the world, again this year. Be happy doing something simple and fun, possibly involving George Clooney, potato chips, and a compost tumbler.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
I'm an American writer living in Seville, Spain and traveling the world with my husband, Rich. I make frequent trips to the USA, especially my native California, because America is something you have to stay in practice for, and I don't want to lose my touch.
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