There were a lot of things that I liked about being in first grade. Sure, I had to wake up early in the morning every day. But when I was that age, I don’t think I really cared too much. I got dressed in whatever clothes happened to be around and were vaguely clean-smelling, and a complete breakfast was provided for me when I got downstairs.
From there, I was chauffeured to school where I spent the day alternating between learning basic mathematics, recess, having storybooks read to me and snack time.
But the thing that I remember most about being in first grade was that holidays were made into ridiculously big ordeals. I have spent hours with those fluorescent, rinky-dink ultra-safe scissors cutting out snowmen, jack-o-lanterns, four-leaf clovers and let’s not forget the most paper-heavy holiday of them all: Valentine’s Day.
Not that I’m complaining about V-Day. Once the cutting was over, the heart-shaped boxes filled with candy began. Then there were those weird but delicious little heart candies with the indiscernible messages. Ah, the luxuries of yesteryear.
It didn’t matter to me when I was a 7-year-old, but I can recall receiving not just one Valentine, but a Valentine from every single kid in my class. I think I had a Valentine’s Day “pouch” taped to my desk, and by the end of the day it was overflowing with little Disney Princess and Power Ranger Valentine’s Day cards. Up to the age of 12, there is no way for a child to get home safely on Feb. 14 without bulging bags of cards and candies.
Frankly, I’m surprised that no story ever appeared in the newspaper entitled, “Children Buried Under Elementary Valentine Onslaught.” It would have featured a picture of an enormous pile of pink and red envelopes, with one small hand stretching out of it, desperately trying to escape.
The adult picture of Valentine’s Day, however, is a different story. Here are some images that come to mind: People wearing all black. People having “singles only” parties. “Single Awareness Day.” People staying at home, teary-eyed in front of a trashy romcom with alcoholic beverage in hand.
Of course, Hollywood delivers the other side of the spectrum. It depicts sweeping romances involving one, some or more likely than not, all of the following: roses, surprises, proposals, fancy dinners, whisking someone away to a foreign romantic city, babies being born, weddings … I’m getting itchy. It’s no wonder people get so bitter about V-Day.
So let’s take a step back for a minute and examine how we got from paper-heart cut-outs to booze and implausibility. I’m going to call it “Valentrauma” (still to be added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
I blame a lot of things on high school and I’m going to blame high school again. See, here’s where we made the careless transition from all-inclusive Valentines to the “Support the Cheer Squad: $2 to send candy hearts to your crush!” Which, let’s be honest, is kind of a game changer. All of a sudden the question is “Who’s going to give one to whom?” and “Will someone get one for me?”
Early February is like a war zone. People are left out. Tears are shed. A rose petal falls to the ground, only to be stepped on by the inattentive heel of your crush’s shoe. Here we see the roots of the aforementioned Valentrauma.
Yet, I think another big cause of Valentrauma is this over-reliance on others to make your Valentine’s Day “special.” After all, don’t you owe yourself a Valentine first and foremost?
So here’s what I propose. Before you get all fussy with those good-for-nothing hallmark cards and all that floral, significant-other nonsense, make yourself your own Valentine.
Think I’m off my rocker? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons. Sure, it might feel a little strange at first, what with everyone in the restaurant looking at you as you act surprised and give flowers to yourself.
But what do they know? You’d get yourself just the right gift and save yourself any potential disappointment.
More importantly, if you wouldn’t want to be your own Valentine, why should anyone else want to be?
Filed Under: Features